Why Parent Rules Make Your Kids’ Life Better

In my previous blog I related a conversation I had with my adult daughter Candace about parenting–more specifically, giving kids chores. Candace also went on to describe parent rules she and Josh set for their 5 kids. Rules and chores. I like the sound of that. They go together like “salt and pepper”, “peanut butter and jelly”, or “matching socks”. Kinda reminds me of the old Campbell Soup commercial tune “Soup and Sandwich”. (Most of you are younger and have no clue what I’m talking about, so click the link.) I wrote my own rendition to the tune. “Rules and chores. Rules and chores. Go together like room and board. Anytime or weather. Rules and chores go together.” IMG_5329Humor aside, parent rules make your kids’ life better. It makes your life better too! Candace and Josh set the parent rules, explained them to their kids, and posted them on the refrigerator as a reminder. She took a picture and sent it to me.  You can see it on the left. Summer will go better because of these rules. It will go better for the kids. It will go better for the parents. It will go better for their family. Parents should set rules for their kids because it makes their life better. Here are 5 reasons how.

Parent Rules Establish Boundaries

Most kids don’t like boundaries. They react to them in negative ways. Kids will test boundaries, ignore them, go around them, or attempt to redefine boundaries to their liking. Kids only like boundaries when it benefits them. “Stay out of my room.” “Do not play with my toys.” “You are not allowed to wear my clothes.”  Boundaries create safety and harmony in a home. Rules that clarify boundaries help kids know their limits. So when my grandchildren interact they know the rule is to show manners.

Parent Rules clarify expectations

Kids are not born knowing right from wrong. They learn appropriate behavior from their parents. Setting rules clarifies the expectations of conduct in the home. It is helpful for your children to have written rules. These form a visual reminder of what is expected of them. Kids are more likely to perform the behavior if it is understood as an expectation. They will also feel better about it too! I like the rule for boredom in my daughter’s family. Fix your boredom or you will be given an extra chore to do. The expectation here is that boredom is your responsibility not mine. I like it!

Parent Rules Shape Behavior

As we have learned, rules establish boundaries and clarify expectations. Parents who enforce rules shape respectful and responsible behavior. Respectful behavior is about how one treats other people. Responsible behavior is about completing a task, whether it is a chore, homework, or obeying the law. Without rules, your kids have no map to direct them in their developing years. They will be lost, frightened, and dependent on parents to take care of them when they should be independent. Consistency is key in shaping behavior. It is not enough to have rules posted, they have to be enforced consistently in order to shape behavior. I address this topic in my book, “Bringing Respect Back: Communicating Without the Conflict”.

Parent Rules Teach Values

Do you have family values? Do your kids know them? A good exercise for parents is to have a conversation about family values. Define what they are for your family. Post them where they can be seen. Share these values with your children. Establish basic rules that support these values. The rules in your home should reflect the values you support. If respect is a value you have then rules that honor respect should follow.  One of the rules in my daughter’s home that supports the value of respect is: “Be respectful of your sibling’s need of space.”

Parent Rules Enforce Responsibility

We live in an Age of the Selfie. A preoccupation with self does not contribute to healthy social development. It breeds kids who have a high sense of entitlement, increasing narcissism, and a lack of awareness or interest in the needs of others. This is often expressed in the home where kids have a tendency to think they outrank their parents. Many kids today believe their parents exist to make their life better. They lack an understanding of reciprocity–the give and take element that establishes respect. Parent rules remind kids who is in charge. Giving kids everything they want does not make their life better. Establishing and enforcing rules makes kids’ life better. Why? It teaches them personal and social responsibility. In order to succeed in an adult world kids need to know how to act in a responsible manner. They cannot expect the world to make life easy for them. Holding your children accountable to the rules of your home will train them to become responsible individuals. This will make their life better. It will also make your life better too! [Tweet “We live in an Age of the Selfie. A preoccupation with self is does not contribute to a healthy social development.”]

Now It’s Your Turn

Do you have rules in your home? Are they communicated? Do you enforce them? Do your kids follow them? If you said yes, then you are on the right track. I’d like to hear what you do that makes it work. Also, share how it is making a difference in your kids’ life. If you answered no to the questions above, I recommend you begin defining some basic rules for your family. If you tried and it didn’t work, I suggest you read my book or other books on parenting that help you set the pattern. Remember, it will make your kids’ life better–and your’s too!