From the time your child is small it is important to begin establishing family rules. However, it is important to remember that the same rules your child follows at age 2 will be very different from the rules they need at ages 12 and 16.
From the time your child is small it is important to begin establishing family rules. However, it is important to remember that the same rules your child follows at age 2 will be very different from the rules they need at ages 12 and 16. When you are working to create rules for your older child or teenager, the most important thing you can do is involve them in the process. This quickly helps to eliminate the concern of rules being imposed and seen as an issue of control. More importantly, it creates an atmosphere of trust and understanding between you and your teen. Here are three important components to creating family rules that work for everyone:
Begin by establishing an open line of communication between children and parents. The role of important communication skills is crucial in so many areas of your relationships. When you want to begin creating rules with or for your child you should first, open up the conversation with them. Explain that, even as adults, there are unwritten rules we all are expected to follow. There are other areas of written rules and laws that we live by as citizens of our city, state, and country. Our home is another area where we need to establish rules to help create order and have boundaries. If your child understands why you are setting rules it makes it much easier to have them involved. Then, you can open a conversation with them about what areas you want to establish rules.
Rule and Consequences
When working with your child to create specific rules, it is important to have them involved in determining what the consequences will be, as well. Some of the rules you may want to set with your child include items such as, curfew, household responsibilities, actions with regard to schooling, actions in regards to treatment of others in the family, driving rules if your child is driving, and so on. As the parent, you can create a list of topics and rules you want to discuss with your child and then together create the actual rule for each topic and its related consequence. Working with your child, you can then create a list, or even a contract that is signed by both parents and children. This contract could include rules for both parents and children to follow. For instance, it could include not only the rules you expect your child to follow, but also ways that your child would like you to approach them, respect their choices, or talk to them about rules and other situations.
While it’s important to have established rules and consequences, there must be some flexibility when circumstances arise. For instance, if you child has a curfew with a specified consequence; you still need to have some flexibility in specific circumstances such as car trouble. If you are inflexible and stick to the rule, no matter the reason behind it being broken, you will quickly destroy your relationship with your child.
When creating rules with your child, it is important not only to include them in the conversations, but to listen and include their ideas. If you take the time to let your child have a say in the creation of both the rules and the consequences, you will find they are much more likely to follow the rules that are established.
A. Lynn Scoresby, founder and president of My Family Track , First Answers , and Achievement Synchrony , and has been a marriage and family psychologist for more than 35 years. He has published more than 20 books and training programs.