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Not everyone may think having family rules is a very good idea, but it cannot be denied that those who decide to put some into place experience a lot more harmony and order in their homes. Whether they like it or not, children require a few rules to help them grow and learn how they are meant to behave.
What Are Family Rules?
Family rules are rules that your child needs to follow in different situations that will help him later in life. Some rules can be general rules related to safety, hygiene and manners, while others can be specific to what you want in your family.
Importance of Family Rules
Having family rules at home is important; here are a few reasons why:
- Chaos is avoided, and all the family members can live peacefully together since everyone is aware of their responsibilities in the home and to each other.
- Daily life tends to flow more smoothly when there are rules in place, so there is no confusion and stress involved each day.
- When your children learn how to follow the rules at home, it becomes natural for them to follow the same outside. For example, the rules you teach them about how to behave at meal times will be taken with them even when they are out at a restaurant or visiting a friend’s place.
- Through family rules, your children will learn what behaviour is acceptable and what is not acceptable.
- When family rules are broken and children need to face the consequences for this, they learn that rules, in general, are meant to be followed, and any breaking of them will lead to consequences.
- By rewarding them with praise for following the rules, you will help them become more interested in wanted behaviours, and they will be more likely to stick to them even as adults in their own homes.
Basic Family Rules
Here is a list of family rules that you may find helpful if you are not sure where to start:
1. Meal Time Rules
Meals are one of the few times a family spends time together; dinner time especially as they are all able to share stories of their day. Here are some good family rules to follow at meal times:
- Everyone should have their meals together at the dining table.
- Have the children set the table before meal times.
- Do not watch television while eating.
- No phones allowed at the table.
- Explain to your children that they should chew with their mouths closed and not speak when their mouths are full.
- Ensure that your children are eating and not playing around at the table.
- Teach them to serve a little in one go so that they do not waste what is on their plate. If they want more, they can surely serve some more food.
- Everyone should be present for all meals unless they have a valid reason such as illness.
- Try to have your meals as a family as often as possible.
- Everyone must help with clearing the table and washing dishes after the meal is over. You can assign turns here if you have more than one child.
2. Hygiene Rules
Maintaining proper hygiene is very important when it comes to remaining healthy, so adding hygiene to the family rules for children is important.
- Hands should be washed before and after meals.
- Hands must be washed after using the toilet.
- Teach your children that they must cover their mouths when they cough or sneeze to avoid spreading germs.
- Keep a bottle of sanitiser with you when you are on the go with the kids. You can even get them their own bottles to take to school to use before and after their snacks as well as if they happen to cough or sneeze.
- Waste must be thrown into the bins.
- The toilet must be flushed after use.
3. Share Household Chores
There are many chores to be taken care of each day, so by getting everyone to help, it becomes less stressful and teaches them the value of looking after the home.
- Ensure that everything has a place and ensure that everyone knows that things must be put back in place after use.
- Chores such as vacuuming, dishwashing, hanging laundry and dusting can be delegated, so make sure everyone has a turn for each chore.
4. Be Polite and Compassionate
Being a good person and treating others with respect is the most important thing you can teach your children.
- Do not yell in the house and make it a practice to speak politely and calmly to your children to teach them the right way of speaking.
- Teach your children the importance of the golden phrases, “thank you”, “please”, and “sorry”.
- Teach your kids the more appropriate way to vent their anger, and instead of fighting, to have a time out or count to ten while taking deep and calming breaths.
- Teach your children to respect the elderly, even to give up their seats for them if necessary.
- Tell your children to be compassionate towards animals as it instils a sense of compassion towards other living beings in them.
5. Road Safety Rules
While travelling by road is common practice, teaching children rules of road safety is important.
- Make sure you wear your seat belt in the car and a helmet if you are on a bike or scooter.
- Never answer your phone or check your messages while you are driving. If it is urgent, pull over to the side to use your phone.
- In the car, make sure that the child lock is working and is on when the kids are with you.
- Teach the children not to distract the driver or be too noisy in the car. Everyone must sit still and no jumping around.
- Ask for cooperation from the family so that if someone forgets to follow the rules, the others can remind them.
6. Take Permission Before Going out
Setting boundaries is very important to ensure the safety and well-being of your family.
- Your children should ask for your permission before they leave the house, even if it is to go downstairs and play with their friends.
- If your child is already out after getting permission to go somewhere, he should not leave that place and go somewhere else. He will need to take separate permission for that.
- Keep the contact information of your child’s friends and their guardians or parents for the sake of safety and emergencies.
- Teach your children yours and your partner’s phone numbers so that they will always be able to contact you if they need to.
- Teach your younger children to never talk to strangers and to shout for help if they have to.
Additional Rules Family Members Must Follow
Here are a few other family rules that you can set in place for the family to follow:
- Turn off the television when it is not being used.
- Switch off the lights when leaving the room.
- Switch off the plug points when done using them.
- Shoes must be kept in the shoe rack.
- Dirty clothes should be put in the laundry basket.
- Hang the towels to dry after use.
- Do not interrupt someone when having a conversation and wait for your turn to speak.
When Should You Start Defining the Family Rules?
Children go through different stages in life, and while most rules can be applied generally, their age should be taken into consideration when setting the rules in place. Though you may think that babies are too young to follow the rules, it is important to set boundaries for them from the moment they are able to speak.
1. Toddlers- 2-5 Years
Toddlers may understand what you want to a certain extent, but they are prone to forgetting the rules fast and will need you to consistently keep reminding them of the rules. Safety rules such as keeping away from fire, no playing with scissors and no running in the house are of the highest priority at this age. Table manners can also start.
2. Preschoolers/School Going- 6-12 Years
For preschoolers, you can focus the family rules on learning how to work with others and how to follow the basic and simple rules of the house.
3. Teenagers- 13-18
Teenagers will need a few more rules, especially since they are able to go out by themselves, so some consideration will need to be taken when making rules for them. They will also be able to chip in with more household chores or with running errands. The best way to make rules for teenagers is to actually involve your teenager when you are setting the rules. This way you can come up with something that both of you can agree on.
How to Implement Good Family Rules?
Here are a few easy steps that will help you implement the family rules:
1. Identify the Rules
Your partner and you should sit down together and come up with a set of rules for the family, paying more attention to any problem areas you want to sort out.
2. Explain the Rules
Explain the rules to your child clearly so that he is well understood, clearing any doubts your child may have, including clearing up what the consequences and rewards are.
3. Enforce Consequences And Rewards
You need to consistently dole out the rewards or consequences when your child breaks or follows the rules well.
4. Follow the Rules
Follow the house rules that you set so that your child will learn to watch you and learn by example.
How to Get Your Family to Follow These Rules?
Here are a few tips that you can follow when trying to get your family to follow the rules:
- Toddlers and young children cannot remember many rules, so you will need to guide them and begin with one or two rules and add more once they get the hang of it.
- For children, you can make a chart that has the rules stated on one side and the consequences on the other side, so it is easy for them to remember. Involving them while making it will help them get more interested in the rules.
- Stick the chart where it can be seen easily by your child. You can put it up on the fridge or the wall in their room.
- You and your partner should discuss the rules together and make sure that you are both happy with it before presenting it to your children. It is also important that the two of you speak to your child about the rules together.
- Ensure that the rules are age-appropriate.
- Ensure to follow the rules to set a good example.
- Make sure that all the caregivers involved, such as the baby sitter, aunts, uncles or grandparents, are aware of the rules and consequences so that your children cannot take advantage and try to break them.
- Rewarding your children for following the rules by praising him and acknowledging that he has done a good job is as important as enforcing the consequences for breaking the rules.
Coming up with family rules can sometimes be challenging, especially when dealing with older children and teenagers who know how to negotiate. If all of you work together and stick to the basic family rules, your home will be more harmonious.