With half-term fast approaching a lot of parents can feel stressed by the thought of what lies ahead. If you don’t have house/family rules in place already, now may be a good time to agree upon rules before the chaos erupts.
Children need limits to help them understand what behaviour is acceptable and how we would like them to behave.
Rules are more likely to be followed if everyone has had an input into them. Rules shouldn’t be a list of demands from parents; they are guidelines for everyone in the house. Choose a time that is calm to sit together and draw/talk/write down ideas for rules before deciding on which ones you want to use.
Fewer is better
A long exhaustive list of rules is no fun for anyone. As an adult you’ll struggle to remember them all so how can we expect children to. As a general rule three to five house rules is a realistic number.
Phrase your rules positively. Rules work best when they remind children what they should be doing rather than a list of things they shouldn’t be doing. For example instead of ‘no shouting’ you could say ‘use your inside or quiet voice’. Try to think of the behaviour you want to encourage when coming up with rules.
Rules should be fair and realistic. Are you creating a rule that you’ll struggle to follow yourself? Are you being realistic about what your children can actually manage? Rules need to be easy to follow in order for them to be effective, so keep them simple and easy to understand. Make sure your rules are enforceable and you can back them up with consequences if you need to.
Agree on consequences for rule breaking. That way everyone is clear on the expectations and what happens if these are broken. Remember to follow through with consequences or else rules become redundant. Remember that these are rules for the whole house, so if your child catches you breaking a rule be prepared to face the consequences.
Display your rules somewhere where everyone is able to see them. Make them colourful and engaging to enable them to be eye-catching and act as a reminder.
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