Why Rules?

rule [r-oo-l]

A usual, customary, or generalized course of action or behavior 

As life has finally settled down and our family is adjusting to the new pace and routine of life, I can finally re-establish my life in the blogosphere!  I’ve missed you all and am glad to be back reflecting on my own parenting journey and (hopefully) encouraging you in yours.

I often talk about family rules, what they are, why they are important etc.  Yet, I have to admit, I really dislike the term RULE.  When you look up a dictionary definition the tone that is expressed is one of oppression, dominance and control.  Let me clarify that when I talk about rules I mean to imply none of the aforementioned concepts.  If I was to re-name rules I would prefer to call them behavior guidelines OR as my dear friend Dr. Purvis coined “Life Values” (see The Connected Child).  As such, I would love to share with you our own family journey on finally establishing and posting written rules.

Maddie is now a bit over 2 1/2 and Cady is about to be 16 months…we are really crossing a developmental bridge where re-direction and “no-no” have run their course and we are needing to provide more structured guidelines for behavior.   I have put hundreds of parents through the exercise of understanding rules, evaluating rules, and finally writing and posting rules in their homes and yet I, the eternal hypocrite, had not done it yet in my own (this was partially due to my children’s young ages).  I digress.

This past week I finally posted rules and consequences in my home. 

At The Parenting Center we taught four rules about rules that I think are very helpful:

1.  State them in the positive (or at least have a what to do for every what not to do)

2.  They must be enforceable (if your child does it, they must know that they broke the rule)

3.  They must be realistic (age appropriate…I cannot expect a two year old to sit still and quietly through a 30 minute meal)

4. They must be consistent (rules are rules all the time…not just when you feel like enforcing them)


Next, Rules are only helpful if you have consequences to enforce them.  I go back and forth on the best way to deal with consequences but, in general, feel that they must be consistent, they must be clear and they MUST be fair.  Writing down rules and consequences helps control the knee jerk reactions of frustration and anger when our children misbehave. Here is our “Three Strikes System”

I will write more about the details of  Think it Over another day but want to close emphasizing one thing.

I assume that most of us would claim to have rules but only about 10% actually have them written down, posted and create them/edit them on an ongoing basis as a family.  Having regulations is not enough, having a system of behavioral accountability is the goal.  It helps our children know how to treat other’s kindly, it gives them appropriate limits and it provides a predictable environment that safely and kindly guides your child toward maturity.

If you are up for the challenge try writing out your rules and consequences this week.  Post them or email them to me for feedback.

This entry was posted in Consistency, parenting, routines and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Why Rules?

  1. Amanda says:

    Angie!! I Miss you!!! I love your blog!

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