Every dad has a set of rules, spoken or unspoken, that they want their kids to follow. And it won’t take long for them to wish they had some if they don’t already.
Rules are important because children want to know right from wrong. They want to know what’s expected of them and what they have the freedom to explore. Without some kind of rules, kids will just act out until someone gives them a boundary.
And, we know that boundaries = security.
So, deciding on a set of family rules can be the key to developing secure, confident kids. In my opinion, it can build strong family bonds and give you insight into the minds of your children. I’ll talk about that a little bit more as we go along.
When I was a new dad and was learning how to parent on the fly, my wife and I pulled our kids together to create a family rules chart. As cheesy at it sounded at first, it was THE BEST possible thing we could have done.
And I’m SO glad we started early on.
Here are some tips I’ve learned about creating a family rules chart for your home.
Include everyone in the family meeting
Just like budgeting, or choosing the paint color on your bedroom wall, people want to be a part of decisions that are going to affect their lives. Your kids are no different.
You can easily create buy-in and ownership over your family rules chart by letting your children include some rules that they think are important.
Keep it simple
Your family rules have to be functional enough to address the issues you want to address. But, they need to be simple enough for everyone to remember. Have you ever seen a coach challenge a call during an NFL game? If you have, you’ve learned that the NFL’s list of rules is confusing and hard to remember.
Don’t be the NFL.
Make your list simple enough for everyone to remember and understand.
Narrow down your list
Ask each other questions like, “What are the most important rules in our family?” “Why is that rule more important than others?”
This will help you remove non-essentials from your household rules and focus on the things that are most important.
You will have some of your best conversations as a family by asking these kinds of question. You’ll gain insights about the individual wiring of your children, what makes them tick, and how they’re gelling with your family.
Family and house rules
Family rules charts can teach children about rules, but they can also create some complex problems.
- What rules only apply at home?
- What rules apply when we are at someone else’s house?
- What rules apply to guests?
- What rules only apply to us even though there are guests in our house?
It’s helpful to answer these questions together as a family before a problem arises. That way you and your children know what’s expected and nobody is confused.
Make them positive
The original draft of your household rules chart might look something like this:
- No yelling
- No running on the stairs
- Don’t leave your dirty clothes on the floor
- Don’t leave your dirty dishes on the table
- Don’t leave the door open and unlocked
From my experience teaching children rules, the chart is way more effective when the rules are written in a positive way. Try phrasing them like this:
- Use kind words with each other
- Walk calmly and safely up and down the stairs
- Always throw your dirty clothes in the hamper
- Always put your dirty dishes in the dishwasher
- Always close the door and lock it after you enter the house
Podcast Ep. 159 Creating Family Rules
Print it and display it
There’s a reason why the ancient Israelites kept their laws on a stone tablet and why businesses write their mission and vision on the wall of their offices. People need a constant reminder of what’s expected of them and why.
Print out your family rules, laminate them, and hang them in bathrooms, bedrooms, playrooms and anywhere else that would be helpful.
Refer to the list often
Now that you’ve printed out your household rules and hung them on the wall, you will have something tangible to point to when a rule is broken.
In the moment, you can point and say, “Hey! Look at rule #3!”
Trust me, this is really helpful when your blood is boiling and you’re looking for the appropriate words to say (not yell) to the culprit.
Review the list regularly
This process of developing a family rules chart is never over because, let’s face it, teaching rules to children is never over.
Kids change. Situations come up. And some rules become more relevant over time.
Because of that, be sure to pull your family together to revisit your list of rules and decide what is necessary, what needs to be removed, and what needs to be added. Just like the first time you created your chart, include every family member in the conversation.
If you have a great conversation when you create your household rules, you’ll likely find that revisiting your chart brings up an even better discussion. Your kids will be more comfortable sharing their ideas and you’ll get another peek into how their brains are developing.
Have you tried creating your own family rules? How did it go? Share your experiences with our Dad University community!