Developing family rules as a group
SETTING family rules may seem like an easy thing before you have children, but what should the rules be? How many should there be and do you keep a list?
Developing consistent family rules that your children can understand and will follow is an important method of encouraging them to look after and treat other people appropriately.
It’s a great idea to involve all family members in developing family rules. Even a three-year-old is able to be involved as you can talk to them about the rules, what they’re for and encourage them to come up with ideas. And yes, make a list so the rules are clear and not forgotten!
The rules your family comes up with need to be clear in setting limits and expectations of all family members. It’s important that there’s consistency in how all siblings are treated.
Rules can cover many topics such as manners and politeness, respecting people and property, safety and well-being.
A good starting point is to come up with some core (basic or ground) rules that cover the whole family rather than specific family members. These would include “Treat each other respectfully” and “Clean up after you have made a mess”.
You want to guide your child’s behaviour in a positive way so having “doing” rules is a great idea. For example, “Ask before taking something” and “Wear a seatbelt in the car”.
Sometimes there is no way to phrase it positively, such as “Don’t approach a strange car”. Do include these, but try not to have them outnumber positive rules.
Remember, while keeping a list is a good idea, making it too long can be problematic. Keep rules simple and clear so your child, especially younger ones, can understand them.
It’s important to have consequences for breaking rules. You should discuss what will happen if they’re broken so your child will understand what to expect.