This week with Dr Bruce Robinson, we talk about setting rules in a family household. Kids have very few naturally occurring self-control skills. They need you to set boundaries and rules to help them to learn to manage themselves. Rules teach children how to manage their emotions and behaviours and to get along with others and prepare for the real world. Our role as a father is to teach our children self-discipline. When we are consistent with our rules in a warm and caring way this helps to reassure our children that we are there to protect them and support them if they make a mistake.
Top tips for setting rules
- Set simple rules for your family together. The best way is to come up with the rules together. Focus the rules on keeping everyone happy and safe and healthy.
- Establish rules that create routines. Children thrive best when they have routines and habits. Rules about screen time, brushing teeth, eating all their vegetables – these are all rules that form good routines and habits.
- Set consequences with your children: Whether it be withdrawal of privileges, time out or whatever you feel is appropriate, consequences that are agreed upon by you and your children are more likely to be effective. Plus, you can say “Well, we all agreed on the consequences.”
- Positive reinforcement: Make sure you watch out for your kids doing the right thing by following the rules. Be enthusiastic in your praise and reward for your kids when they follow the rules.
Every child is learning to manage their own behaviours, emotions and relationships with others. As they grow up and go to school, our children are expected to start to take more responsibility for their own self-management. As with all learning, some will be better at it than others and some will need more support, but they will all make mistakes sometimes.
Remember, be warm, but firm with your rules. As your kids grow up, they’ll be grateful you set rules in place.