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Limited time: The 5-step strategy to setting effective limits with your child
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I am a big fan of giving a lot of freedom during their childhood. They need to play a lot, to have fun, and to enjoy every moment of these wonderful years! But I am also convinced that rules are important for children! They help them understand what is right or wrong and allow them to learn how to behave. I am really lucky that my son likes rules too! It may seem strange but he is actually happy to follow rules as soon as he understands the reason behind them. This is why lately I thought a lot about how to create family rules for our home.
I wanted to do this in a way that will make my son be willing to follow them. I never used time-outs or punishments for enforcing our rules, so I don’t plan to do this in the future either. So I decided to create our family rules in a playful way and make sure that he will be happy to follow them.
Here are the steps that helped me implement our rules.
1. Involving the child in the setting of the rules
The parent is the one who sets the rules. But kids can have a word on this too! So I created a list of rules and I talked about each of them with Bogdan.
I explained why each rule is important. And I asked about his opinion. He was happy to be involved and came up with some suggestions to add to the list!
2. Keeping the rules simple and clear
For young kids, it is really hard to remember and follow a lot of rules. This is why creating simple and clear rules is very important!
3. Combining the family rules with our family values
I didn’t want our rule list to be boring or too demanding. So I’ve added our family values on the list! They are a happy way to remember what is important for us. They also provide us a good motivation for following the rules. 🙂
Here are our family values that I’ve added to our list:
This list is also a wonderful reminder for me. When I face a difficult moment, reading the list helps me regain my positive mood more quickly. 🙂
I read this list to Bogdan from time to time and he is happy to talk about it. I hope that this values will always guide him through life.
4. Creating a set of rules that we all follow
I truly believe that the most efficient rules are the ones that we enforce through our personal model. We cannot expect kids to follow rules that we don’t follow. We cannot ask a child not to yell when he hears us yelling all the time. We cannot require him to be polite if we don’t use polite words ourselves.
So I created rules that apply to all of us! I make sure that Bogdan follows the rules and I always remind him of them when he doesn’t obey one of them. And I taught him to do the same with me. If I raise my voice, he knows that he can tell me that this is wrong and against our family rules.
This not only helps me calm down quicker but it also teaches him (once again) how important our rules are. This approach makes him be willing to follow the rules. And he is happy when he has the chance to remind us about the rules and see us following his advice.
5. Putting the rules into practice
We displayed the list in our home so we always have it at hand. We read it from time to time just as a reminder, in a playful way.
Also, when Bogdan disobeys one of the rules I remind him about the list. I just tell him that we agreed on that rule and it is important to follow it. As I wrote before, I never use time-outs or punishments when he doesn’t follow a rule. Instead, I discuss the issue with him and I suggest possible solutions for avoiding the problem to appear again.
Sometimes he has a hard time following a rule and in that case, I know that I must set a firm limit on his behavior. I talked more about how I do this in another post: How to set limits with young kids in an effective and gentle way with 3 simple steps.
I know that this approach (of not using any punishments) may seem strange and inefficient to many parents but it works great for us. If you are curious to find out more about it, I invite you to read this article: Our story of raising a child without punishments (or time-outs).
Our list of family rules
Every family is unique, so the rules can be different in each home. Still, I think that most of them apply to everyone. I share here our list, in case you like it and you want to implement it in your house.
You can download it using the form at the end of the article. I have also created a template in case you want to create your own list. No matter what rules are most important for you, I’m sure that a positive and playful approach will help your kids follow them. It takes time and patience but these rules and values but it’s totally worthwhile. If they are implemented in a right way and the child truly understands them, they will be the guide him for the rest of his life.
Download our printable template and create your own family rules
The printable file contains our family values and family rules but also template for creating your own lists.
To download the printable you just need to fill in the below form.
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