Help Kids Build the 5 House Rules That They Will Follow
by Susie E. Caron (c) 9/13/14
Kids love rules because they love fairness. Any child over the age of 5 will benefit by taking part in constructing a list of family rules to live by. To do this, first you have to gather the kids in a family meeting.
Parents are often skeptical about holding a family meeting and letting the kids decide on a list of important family rules that everyone will follow. Maybe you are skeptical too, because you struggle to get your kids to do their chores, their homework, eat dinner, and go to bed without a fight? Here’s a more peaceful way to get kids to cooperate- Help them to build house rules together.
First, hold a family meeting. Tell your kids that you want to discuss making up a poster with them. Set a time when you all can meet. Make sure it’s at a time when you are in a good mood and serve some of their favorite snacks.
At the beginning of the meeting tell your kids that you know they really want to get along and you want to be nicer too. To make this possible, you want them to help you to write up a list of about five family rules that everyone will follow. Tell them you will post it where everyone can see it.
Watch your kid’s faces, because they will love the idea. Kids love fairness and they understand that if they get to make up the rules, then everyone has to follow them. Tell your kids that your part will be to help with the wording so the rules will fit on the poster. During the meeting let each child have a turn to suggest a rule. Repeat what the child says and then re-word the rule if necessary. After you have a list, go over it with your children and see if they all agree, or if something needs to be added, reworded or removed. When you are all satisfied with the established rules, write them on the poster board. If your kids are old enough, they can even write out the rules themselves. Decorating the rules is also ok.
Here are some important considerations before you hold that meeting. I suggest writing the rules in a positive manner. Rules that are positive are far more likely to be remembered and followed than rules that say no, don’t, and can’t. For example instead of “No one eats in the bedrooms.” Change it to “Food must be eaten in the kitchen or living room.”
You also have the right of veto. For example, if one child names another child and makes up a rule just for that child, you need to re-word that rule to fit everyone. For example; Instead of "Sally cannot come into my room without permission,” you can write: “Ask permission to enter anyone's room.”
One notable exception to making all rules positive may be for things like hitting, or swearing etc. For example: If your family needs a no hitting, kicking, or biting rule. (This is necessary sometimes.) The rule could be stated more strongly like this: “No, hitting, kicking or biting allowed.” But when this behavior is not as much a problem it could read “We keep our hands to ourselves.”
One more note: Usually, kids (and parents) follow the rules that they have helped to build. However after the first few weeks it seems everyone begins to ‘forget.’ It’s very important at that time to hold another family meeting to discuss how everyone feels about the rules. Maybe one rule is not a problem anymore and can be discarded. Possibly, another rule must be added. That’s OK because as your children grow they will internalize the family rules over time. Old rules become obsolete and new ones can be developed. What is important is that you and the kids have fun with these meetings. When you hold a family meeting and allow your kids to share their thoughts, they understand that they are important to you and what they think actually matters.
I write articles so you can teach your kids to grow up great. Remember to comment and share!
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Susie E. Caron
Susie E. Caron MA,
Author, Blogger, Podcaster,
Christian, Wife, & Mother, helps build parent-child relationships, 1 blog, book & podcast at a time.
Welcome! I recently retired from combined careers in teaching, psychotherapy, and parent coaching to spend more time writing.
When I'm not busy creating books or articles, you might find me looking for dark chocolate or riding my beautiful horse Apple in the woods and fields of Vermont.
These articles are for educational and self-help purposes only and are not intended as psychotherapy.
If you experience unusual symptoms or discomfort please see your medical or mental health practitioner.
No patent liability is assumed for use of the information contained. The author disclaims any responsibility for loss or risk for use or application of this material.
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Blog Reviews & Thank You!
July 13 at 7:17pm ·
Just wanted to say that I love your posts about the different ways to connect/relate/understand your child. It has given me a new approach towards understanding my daughter and allowing HER to tell me how she feels instead of me suggesting to her how she should feel. Thanks Susie!