Wednesday, June 13, 2012

House Rules

I learned many great things on how to be a parent when I was a mental health social worker.  Every book I read on parenting always spoke about the importance of structure. But it was not until I went into the most dysfunctional homes that I realized that children are not born already knowing the rules. How could I be so stupid?

That night after my observation, I went home, jotted down some rules, and called a family meeting.  The look on the kids faces when I explained we where having a meeting.  I really think they thought I was going to tell them I was pregnant again, because they had such horrible, scared looks on their faces.  So did my husband!

We went over the rules, discussed some, argued others and came up with a list.  I reprinted the list and posted them on the frig'.  Now, I am not saying that they were all perfect angels but surprising they did improve.  How could I have missed this before? All institutions have rules, but I did not for my home. How could I have expected my children to behave if they were never told the rules?  Years later, I no longer have the house rules on the frig' but I am certain everyone knows the rules.
Here is a copy of our rules: 

Our House Rules:
1. Treat others like you would like to be treated! 
2. Walking feet in the house!  NO Running!
3. Always ask before taking something (drinks, snacks, toys, tools,etc.)
4. Do not use bad words!
5. No teasing 
6. Always say "please" and "thank you".
7. No jumping on furniture (beds,couch,chair,etc.)
8. Use our inside voice when in the house (no yelling).
9. Respect what God has given us- do not break things, throw things, or misuse things.

So how do you make house rules?  Make a list with 10 or less rules.  The simpler the better.  Make sure that the rules are agreed upon by both  parents.  After you have compiled a list, schedule a meeting and go over the rules with everyone.  Even two years old will listen.  Than post them somewhere that everyone can see them everyday.  We used the Refrigerator since that is where the kids are all the time!!!  Also YOU must abide by the rules.  Practice what you preach sister!

After you make up the rules than you must discuss consequences.  When someone breaks the rules there needs to be a consequence.  This is where things can be tricky.  Don't assume that this is going to work overnight.  But the more consistent you are with the rules and the consequences the more you will have successful and confident children.

I am a total believer in positive reinforcement.  There is much research that to change behavior, positive reinforcement is by far the best way.  At first when implementing the rules you may want to do a reward chart.  For each day the child does not break a rule, give them a sticker. When they are done completing a chart they earn a reward.  A reward does not have to be something you buy.  It could be that they earn a extra half hour to stay up, they get to bake cookies, or they go to the park.

After a few times of getting rewarded your child will know exactly what is expected of them.   The best reward charts that I have used is on this site:  This site has some free charts (which were the ones I used) and some to buy.  Also they have charts for children as young as 3 years old.

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