House rules for kids are helpful to create a stress-free atmosphere at home. They help provide a basic structure about how the family functions, creating an environment for disciplined upbringing. House rules clearly state your expectations, and following them makes everyone’s life easier in the family. Children also tend to feel safer in a home where household rules are implemented and followed.
House rules do not have to be complicated, and you need not always enforce them strictly. However, following these rules as frequently as possible can help children know what to expect from their surroundings and grow up as disciplined individuals.
This post brings some applicable house rules that you may use for your children. We also provide you with tips about ensuring that the children agree to and follow the rules.
Tips For Creating House Rules For Kids
Creating rules is the easy part. But how do you ensure that your children follow them? Here are some tips for creating house rules for kids.
1. Ask them for their input
Rules are created to ensure your children’s safety, and some of them are non-negotiable. Not opening the door without checking who is outside, not crossing the road without checking both sides, not touching hot or sharp objects, etc., are some rules that are mainly set for their safety and should always be enforced.
However, make sure you ask their opinion before you enforce the rules on them. Asking them, “What do you think?” goes a long way in boosting their confidence and making them feel included.
2. Take everyone’s schedules into account
Before you make any rules for the family, you must ensure you take everyone’s schedules and needs into account.
How big is your family? How old are the children? Do you have pets? Do any of the family members have any allergies or medical conditions that everyone needs to remember? Ensure you make rules that accommodate all of these conditions.
3. Consider their age and maturity level
When you introduce rules to your children, you must take their age and maturity level into account. Experts believe that you can introduce rules to your children once they are school-aged.
Children who are too young (infants and toddlers) will not understand your instructions well, and you will have to step in often. Older children, on the other hand, like taking control of things. Ask them specific questions about a rule so that they understand. You can also give them choices to let them feel a sense of control. For example, put two shirts in front of them, and let them choose one to wear.
4. Set consequences when rules are broken
Children are bound to break the rules occasionally. Thus, you must ensure they know the consequences when they break one. Be consistent with implementing the decided consequence because if you let it go a few times, they will learn that they can break the rules and get away with them.
In some cases, you can ask them to make the rules themselves to remember them better. Further, remind them of the rule and the consequences occasionally. For example, if they have the habit of throwing toys on the floor, ask them what would happen if they broke a new toy. They will most probably answer, “No new toys for a while.”
5. Help your children follow the rules
Track your child’s progress and make visual aids for them to understand and remember the rules. Praise them when they follow the rules, just as you enforce the consequences when they break them.
Make sure you never shout at or shame them in anger. If rules are not being followed, discuss with them only after you have overcome your anger. In some cases, removing a child from a potential rule-breaking situation might help.
6. Follow the rules yourself
Children learn by watching you. If you do not practice a rule, do not expect them to follow it either.
If you do not follow a rule for any reason, explain it to your children in clear terms. For example, if you have an early bedtime rule for the children, but you stay awake, explain why you do so. This will help them understand the difference and follow the rules you do not or cannot follow.
26 House Rules For Children
Humans are social creatures and require structure to perform efficiently. These basic house rules will ensure that your house runs smoothly and has less yelling and tantrums overall. A home with rules is an efficient home.
1. Knock before entering
This is a basic but important rule. It is helpful for children to understand the importance of personal space and privacy. As your children grow, they will require privacy themselves. Thus, the sooner your children learn it, the better.
2. Respect everyone in the household
It doesn’t matter if a family member is older or younger; respecting every family member is a non-negotiable rule. Name-calling, answering back, walking away rudely, slamming doors, and throwing objects in anger are disrespectful behavior and should be discouraged.
3. Do not exceed your screen time
It is tempting for you to give your children an iPad or switch on the television so that you can get some work done or when you are too tired to engage with the children meaningfully. While extended screen time is okay once in a while, regular extended screen time might cause more harm than good for your child. Fix a set screen time and follow it yourself too.
4. Keep your promises
Promises must be kept at all costs. Children have the habit of making rash promises to get out of an awkward situation. They do not do this intentionally, but they are not forward-thinkers as grown-ups. It is up to you to ensure that your children keep their promises.
5. Don’t say anything if you cannot say anything good
This is an important rule, especially in today’s world of social media. People, especially trolls, have the nasty habit of writing rude comments and sending offensive messages under the cloak of anonymity. Children must be made to understand from a young age that if they cannot say anything good, it is best not to say anything at all.
6. Pick up after yourself
This rule will not only help your child but also make your life easier. If your children have the habit of asking you for everything and leaving things as they are behind them, set this rule. If they have had a glass of water, they must put it on the counter or in the sink. If they have played with toys, they must put them away before moving on to other things. While you may help them clear up, the sooner you teach your child to pick up after him or herself, the better.
7. Tell the truth
Every child lies at some point in their life. Usually, children in the age group of four to six years have the habit of coming up with stories, and adolescents lie for some self-serving purpose, usually to get out of trouble. While a few white lies are acceptable, the parents must ensure that the children aren’t lying to hide something significant. Children often lie if they fear the parents’ reactions, so take this potential reality into consideration.
8. Respond when someone talks to you
Children are often so lost in their world of music or videos that they do not realize someone is calling them or speaking to them. Sometimes, teens or tweens might not respond because they are angry and sulking or because they do not like the person talking with them.
This rule ensures that children respond every time someone talks to them. Sitting mum when someone asks them something is rude. If they do not want to interact with someone or aren’t comfortable, they should excuse themselves and leave the room.
9. Inform the family about a new project well in advance
Although this is more applicable to school-going children who have an uncanny habit of springing a surprise on you the night before they have to submit a science assignment at school, it could apply to tweens and older children too. If they have something on their calendar, they should inform the family well in advance and not request you at the last minute.
10. If your plans change, inform the parents
Children often make plans on the spot depending on their moods. However, if they have a change in plans, it is their duty to inform you. Whether they plan to walk outside during their sleepover, go to a friend’s house after school, or watch a movie on their night out, they should inform you if the plan is newly made.
11. Say the magic words
As parents, we usually do not expect our children to say “please” or “thank you” after everything we do for them. However, teaching them the power of these magic words is crucial. Not only do the parents get a positive affirmation from these words, but the children learn that they have to use these in the real world to make a good impression.
12. Wait for your turn to speak
The sooner you teach your children to wait their turn before speaking, the better it is for you and them. Children always have something to say, and they will most likely want to tell it the moment the thought pops up in their head. However, if you are already talking to someone, the child has to learn to wait until you and the other person have stopped talking before they can say something.
When you have finished talking to the other person, make sure you ask your child what they want to say and listen to them carefully. This validates their feelings.
13. Know that with privilege comes responsibility
If you do not want your child to grow into an entitled adult who seizes everything they want without caring for others feelings, you must teach them the value of privileges. Emphasize the importance of fulfilling responsibilities to earn privileges. When children learn that privileges are earned and not served on a platter, they will remain grateful for their privileges and not misuse them.
14. Maintain proper hygiene
This might seem to be a no-brainer, but expecting your children to maintain basic dental and body hygiene is vital. When life becomes hectic, the first things to be sacrificed are bathing and brushing. This rule will ensure that they follow hygiene practices no matter how tough life is and stay healthy.
15. Borrow only after asking
Even if something belongs to the parents or siblings, children need to know that they can borrow something only if they ask the owner’s permission. If you skip this rule at home, your children will not realize that they cannot borrow other people’s possessions without permission, and they might start taking what they want without asking. This will most likely earn them a bad name.
16. Do not take your parents efforts for granted
If children are not made to understand the difficulties their parents face to provide them a good lifestyle, they might start taking things for granted both inside and outside the home. They might make demands without realizing how much you have to go out of your way to accommodate their requests. Let your children know the effort and hard work you put in so that they never take you for granted.
17. Return borrowed items to the owner in the same condition
If your children have borrowed something from others, it is their responsibility to take care of the item and return it to the owner in the same condition they borrowed it and within the allotted time frame. This rule ensures that your children are mindful of others’ belongings. This also teaches children that they can earn other people’s trust by handling their property with care and returning them well before or on the date expected.
18. If you make a mess, clean it up
Children are known to create messes. However, they must learn that if they create a mess, they should clear it up. If they cannot clean by themselves, they should ask an adult to assist them. This is not only important for them to learn about the importance of cleanliness and take responsibility but also reduces the chances of unintentional hazards, such as slipping on the floor they have spilled water on.
19. Attend family gatherings
Most family gatherings are happy events that involve food, drinks, games, and lots of laughter. They are an excellent way for children to socialize. If you do not have any family nearby, you can arrange for a gathering of friends. If none of your friends are free to drop in, you can arrange for your family to have game nights, movie nights, or debate nights. Every family member can choose an activity according to their preference, and everybody in the family must participate. If this is difficult, it may be beneficial to join a parents’ group and organize group playdates.
20. Think before you speak
Thinking before speaking is an important habit that will hold your children in good stead all through their lives. Teach them the value of words and the effect they cause on other people’s feelings. This rule will make them understand how important their words are, and they will learn to use them wisely.
21. Apologize and make amends when someone is hurt
Saying sorry and getting out of the scene is easy for children. Often, they do not understand the implications of their actions and the effect they have on others. Thus, they may say sorry and forget about the situation. However, they must be made to understand the result of their actions, and they should not only apologize but also make amends to the person they hurt.
22. If you take something from somewhere, return it to the same place
How many times do you find things taken from the kitchen and left in the living room? Once they are done with an item, most children simply leave them there and move on to the next thing that catches their interest. This can be highly frustrating to the others in the family when they cannot find the item. This rule will make sure children place things in the right places.
23. If you take the last of something, tell at least one parent
Whether it is the last cookie from the jar or the last pencil from the stationery set, children need to tell you that it was the last thing to you so that you can put it on your shopping list. Failing to do so might cause endless problems, the worst of which involves discovering an empty packet on a hectic day.
24. Keep an open mind
The world is diverse, and every day, your child has the chance to meet people who do not conform to their understanding of the world. This rule teaches them to have an open mind and accept people who are different from them. These differences might be physical, mental, spiritual, religious, sexual, or any other. This rule will enable your children to embrace other cultures and encourage them to mingle with new people even in the future.
25. Never bully others
Everyone hates a bully. They take pleasure in other people’s sufferings. It is necessary that you encourage them not to be one. Also, encourage them to stand up against bullying and inform the authorities whenever they witness one.
26. Be empathetic
There are not enough empathetic people in the world. Being empathetic means understanding the struggles of another person and lending them an ear. You may not be able to help them. But you can at least listen to their troubles and try to alleviate them. Raising empathetic children is the need of the hour.
House rules for kids are important because they ensure an organized lifestyle and help develop disciplined individuals. Setting house rules will enable you to slowly prepare your children for the challenges of the outside world. However, before choosing the house rules, consider your children’s opinions, keep their age and maturity level in mind, and be a good role model by following the rules yourself. Some simple house rules that you may set are knocking before entering a room, not exceeding their screen time, or waiting for their turn to speak. Though children may miss out on following the rules some days, you need not worry about it. Instead, ensure that they follow the rules on most days. Gradually, these rules will help them develop good habits and make them well-balanced individuals.
- Respecting all family members, irrespective of their age, should be non-negotiable in any family.
- Be polite and use words, such as “please” and “thank you,” every time someone says or does something nice for them.
- If you make a mess, clean it up; children can learn to clear any mess they create the next time.
- Essentials for Parenting Toddlers and Preschoolers.
- How to Teach Good Behavior: Tips for Parents.
- Screen Time and Children.
- Lying and Children.