5 Types of Household Rules Kids Need

Establish Rules that Will Help Your Child Become a Responsible Adult

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Kids need rules to feel safe and secure. But, give them too many, and you may stifle their development.

Establishing household rules becomes more complicated when you have multiple children who require slightly different rules. And of course, the rules need to change as your child grows and develops more independence.

Create Your List of Household Rules

Create a formal list of written household rules.

Cover the major rules that you think are the most important. For example, if keeping an orderly house is especially important to you, a rule might be “Pick up after yourself,” or “Make your bed each morning.”

You'll also have those spur-of-the-moment rules you need to address as well. For example, even though you may not have a rule against singing loudly at the dinner table, there may be times that you have to tell your child to focus on eating, rather than putting on a show.

When it comes to establishing rules, especially the less formal ones, it can be helpful to examine the underlying reason for the rule to make sure there is some sound reasoning behind it. To raise a child who is going to become a responsible adult, you need rules that teach the most essential life lessons.

Here are the the five types of rules all kids need:

1. Rules that Promote Safety

Safety rules includes physical safety and emotional safety.

Physical safety might address things like “Sit on the furniture only (no standing)” and “Don’t answer the door when Mom’s in the shower.”

Emotional safety may include household rules like, “Use kind words only,” or “Everyone can share their feelings as long as it is polite.” When kids feel safe, they are free to focus their energy on exploring their talents and their environment.

2. Rules that Promote Morality

Creating rules gives you the opportunity to instill values and morals in your children. Create rules to live by, such as “Tell the truth,” or “Say sorry when you’ve hurt someone else.” It’s essential that you model your values in your own life as kids will learn from watching you.

3. Rules that Develop Habits and Routine

Kids do best when they have routine and structure. Therefore, there should be rules to develop healthy habits each day. For example, “Brush your teeth after breakfast,” or “Put your dirty clothes in the hamper.”

Creating healthy habits and routines helps reduce power struggles. When kids know that they are supposed to hang their coat up when they come home from school or that they’re supposed to do homework right after dinner, it can reduce a lot of arguing as long as there are clear consequences for misbehavior.

4. Rules that Promote Social Skills

Kids also need rules that teach them social skills. For example, “Share your toys with your brother,” or “Take turns while playing the game,” teaches kids appropriate ways to interact with others.

Older kids may need rules about their technological devices. Establish rules about your teen's smartphone or laptop use, so you teen knows it's impolite to answer the phone at the dinner table or send text messages during a job interview. 

5. Rules that Prepare Kids for the Real World

Kids also need rules that will help prepare them for becoming adults. Establish rules that teach kids life skills that will help them function better once they leave home. The exact rules and help your child will need to develop these skills will depend largely on your child’s temperament. Some kids are just more prone to behaving responsibly and staying motivated with their school work, while other kids need extra rules to support them.

For example, setting rules about chores and money helps prepare kids for the working environment. Provide kids with chores and the opportunity to earn an allowance. Then, teach them about money so they can learn how to save and spend money wisely so they are better prepared for paying their own bills as adults.

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