What kind of rules should I develop for my family?

Lynne Kenney
Far more than needing to be told what not to do, your children need to be told what to do – and more importantly, how to do it. You want to raise thinking children, problem-solving children. You’re not bad parents if you operate with more don’ts than do’s, but I believe you are losing a golden opportunity to use your rules to help your children grow into their life skills. You’re missing the chance to show your children how rules and structure lead to opportunity and growth, not shackles and immobilization. What I’m suggesting as you develop your family rules is a do this parenting style.

Chat about your family rules with your children over dinner, in the park, or in the car (don’t overdo it until it feels like a chore, just look for those moments when it can be relatively easily brought into the conversation). Ask them what kinds of rules would help you to be a happier family. Ask them what rules they break that get them in trouble and what rules they observe that make them feel good. Wonder aloud if you break any family rules. I know I do, and I appreciate it when the children say, “Hey Mom, that’s not how we live.” Then I can revise my words, actions or behavior. I can even apologize when needed. That’s not showing weakness, it’s showing that you respect the family’s culture of rules and stand by them. It reinforces the power of your rules.

Some rules parents and children may develop may include:

  • Acceptable hours for TV viewing time.
  • Set wake, nap and bedtime hours.
  • Accessibility to internet viewing sites (with & without parental control).
  • Visiting times for friends (with & without parental supervision).
  • Allowable outside play areas in community and neighborhood. 
  • Kitchen rules for cooking individual meals & snacks.
  • Cleaning up bedrooms (i.e. making beds, washing clothes, picking up toys) and household chore schedules

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.