As we addressed in a previous article, your family’s rules should reflect what your family values most. In that article, we also talked about how to best create and post your rules. Here we will go through a list of family rule ideas that may work for you. Of course, every family is unique – these are just to get you headed in the right direction. There are debates about whether rules should be stated in the positive or the negative. We feel that it really doesn’t matter, just so long as you have them!
- No hitting, biting, or kicking.
- Do not take things out of other people’s hands.
- Speak with a respectful tone.
- Have calm behavior inside the house.
- Do what you are told without arguing.
- Respect other people’s personal space.
- No screaming.
- Use kind and appropriate language.
Remember, any rule you post will require a consequence if broken. If you wouldn’t follow a breach of the rule with a consequence, then it isn’t a rule but rather a guideline or area that requires training rather than discipline. Generally, rules should address issues pertaining to respect towards others. Manners (like not speaking with your mouth full), chores (like taking out the trash) or skills (like getting your homework done by a certain time) are issues better suited for training. However, if your child is refusing to take out the trash or do his homework, that breaks the rule “do what you are told” and will require a consequence.
It is best if rules are discussed and agreed upon as a family. It is also best if you limit the number of rules to about 4. We have our own free printable family rule worksheet to help get you started. It contains space for the rules as well as a contract area for each member of the family to sign. Having children participate in the rule-making as well as signing a contract increases their investment and adherence to the rules. You may want to agree to review the rule list periodically to give each family member an opportunity to be heard.
Rules are important to any family. Writing them down and posting them is not necessary for everyone but it can be a great tool for helping both parents and kids stay on track.