Sample List of Household Rules for the Entire Family

Examples of Rules for Everyone in the House to Follow

Get your child involved in creating your list of household rules.
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If you're like most parents, you may struggle to list your household rules off the top off your head. Although you know what behavior is acceptable—--and what isn't—without a written list of rules it can be hard to name your expectations.

That's why it's important to create a written list of household rules. Then, everyone in the family becomes clear about your expectations. Rules also help kids feel safe and secure.

When your rules are clear, you'll be less likely to get into power struggles as well. Your child's attempts to say, "But Mom, I didn't know!" won't be effective when you remind him of the list of rules.

What Should be Included in the Household Rules

Household rules should include the rules that everyone in the house is expected to follow, including parents. This means only including only things that you are willing to do as well. Don’t include a rule such as, “Bedtime is at 7PM,” unless you also plan to go to bed at that time.

Rules that are specific to each child can be included on a separate list. Bedtimes, chores, curfews and other rules are likely to be person-specific.

Your household rules should be specific to your family's needs and values. While it might be important in one family's home to emphasize “No jumping on the furniture,” another family may want a rule that says, “Try at least two bites of everything on your plate.”

Sample List of Household Rules for Kids

Keep your list short and simple. A lengthy list of rules could become too complicated and confusing. Here is a sample list of household rules:

1. Treat other people and their property respectfully.

  • No hurting anyone’s feelings (no yelling, putdowns, or name calling).
  • No hurting anyone’s body (no hitting, pushing, or kicking).
  • Ask permission to borrow other people’s belongings.

Enforce this rules by implementing an immediate consequence when it's broken. Time-out or loss of privileges can help kids learn to make better choices.

2. Knock on closed doors before entering.

Teach kids about privacy by establishing a rule about knocking on closed doors before entering. This can be a great way for them to practice respectful behaviors.

3. Pick up after yourself.

Talk to kids about specific expectations about picking up after themselves. For example, tell them to put their dishes in the dishwasher when they’re done eating. Also, make it clear when you expect them to pick up their toys by saying something such as, “Pick up your toys before you get out any new toys.”

4. Turn off electronics after dinner.

Many families choose to establish rules about electronics. While some families may say each person can have up to two hours of electronics (video games, computer time, cell phone and TV) per day, other families may choose to set limits on what time electronics need to be turned off.

5. Apologize if you’ve hurt someone’s feelings.

Teach kids to take responsibility for their behavior by creating a rule about how to respond if they’ve hurt someone. Sometimes an apology may be enough and at other times, you may need to institute restitution as a consequence.

6. Tell the truth.

Stressing the importance of honesty will only be effective if you role model the behavior you want to see from your kids. If you tell your kids to always tell the truth, but try to claim your 13-year-old is only 12 so you can get a lower-priced movie ticket, your words won’t be effective. Kids can’t tell the difference between “white lies” and other lies so if you’re going to stress the importance of honesty, you’ll need to show them that you’re honest.

7. Attend family meetings once a week.

Holding regularly scheduled family meetings can help you review the rules and make any changes as necessary. While some families may want to schedule a meeting once a week, other families may find that meeting once a month is plenty.

Revise Your List as Needed

Allow your kids offer input into what they think should be included on the list of rules. When kids have some input, it can get them more invested in following the rules.

Work together as a family to problem-solve specific issues. For example, if you’re noticing that several family members aren’t picking up after themselves, talk about it and see what you can do to better enforce this rule.

Be open to revising the list of rules as needed. As your children grow and mature the behaviors you'll want to address will shift as well. Add new rules when necessary.

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