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One of my favorite sayings is it’s not how big the house is, it’s how happy the home is. But let’s face it, sometimes our homes can be stressful, loud, and messy! The first step to making your home a more peaceful place is by implementing house rules. It is important to establish a simple list of house rules that your children will expect and understand.
Defining your family’s house rules is not as difficult as it sounds. A little bit of work will save you so much frustration later on. The implementation and enforcement of house rules will make your children better behaved and lessen the stress of everyone at home. In fact, house rules make living under one roof, especially a small house, bearable and more relaxing. Here’s why.
House Rules Produce Well-Behaved Kids
In order to behave, kids need to know what is expected of them. House rules help kids understand what behaviors are expected and also what is unacceptable behavior. They also help us encourage the behavior we WANT to see in our kids.
House rules are the foundation of your household routine. Routines are so important because kids feel safe and secure when they know what to expect. And developing a routine is the first step to creating predictability and consistency in your home.
Predictability makes your kids feel safe and secure. Parents have more confidence because they know how to respond to misbehavior, and they respond the same way each time aka consistency. Your house rules and routine work hand-in-hand to help create structure, which is good for everyone.
In short, routines and rules help structure the home and make life more predictable for everyone.
House rules also help foster self-control and respect. Rules introduce the idea of mindfulness towards others and property. Respect for self and others begins in the home.
House rules begin the process of self-discipline. When you make your expectations clear from a young age, kids internalize those expectations and begin to expect the same thing from themselves.
How to Implement Family House Rules
1. Identify and explain the family rules. Rules work best when they are simple, few, and positively state what you expect from your kids.
If you are unsure where to start in coming up with house rules ask yourself what your parenting priorities are. And figure out rules that help common issues your family struggles with. For example, if your kids never remember to pick up their laundry, a good house rule would be “put all laundry in the hamper.”
2. Write out the rules and post where everyone can see them. Post them at the kid’s eye level and use pictures if you have younger kids so they can recognize them too. A good rule of thumb is one rule for each year of age.
3. Refer to the rules often, praise when they are followed, adjust when needed. We would go over our house rules each night when we filled out our behavior chart.
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And once a year we change our house rules. More on our personal house rules at the end of this post.
4. Be consistent. Unless a child is sick or injured, there is no reason for rules not to be followed. Think of it as consistency rather than being hard on your kids. They will thank you for it later.
5. Have a plan for consequences if rules are broken. Our family personally used the naughty step technique from Supernanny, but you can base your consequences on your personal beliefs about discipline.
House Rules for Young Children
Here is an example of our past house rules. My kids were around 3 and 4 when we had these rules. We picked things the girls needed to work on as well as things we valued as parents. Speaking to each other kindly, being respectful of others, and being a good person. We had the house rules posted by their behavior chart.
House Rules for School Aged Children
We redo our house rules about once a year to adjust to our kids ages and things we want to shape in their behavior. The rules for our 8 and 9-year-old include:
1. Treat home and family with respect.
2. Do your best. Always.
3. Contribute to your family.
4. Be on time.
5. Pay attention. (This referred to when the kids are out of the house: walking, bike riding, etc.)
6. Take responsibility.
7. Be honest and open.
8. Be nice and love each other.
As a side note, because we instilled in them the notion of keeping things tidy, our kids naturally pick up after themselves. We no longer need a “pick up toys” rule. As your kids get older, don’t confuse rules with chores. Even though picking up and cleaning aren’t part of our house rules, every Saturday morning we clean the house and pick up any random things from the week that haven’t been put away.
For house rules to work well, everyone needs to know, understand, and follow the rules. And the awesome thing is with well enforced house rules your kids with be better behaved and your home will run more smoothly.