Establishing Rules

As your children grow and develop new skills and experiences, you can offer guidance and support. Conflict is a normal part of child development. The best way to prevent serious conflict is to create a safe and solid relationship early on through communication during play and fun activities.

Here are three steps to establishing rules for younger children:

  1. Set clear expectations - Children must know what kind of behaviour is desireable, and what's considered to be undesireable behaviour. When a mistake is made, clearly explain what behaviour is inappropriate. A warning is appropriate, and is often all that is needed. 
  2. Set natural consequences - The severity of the mistake should determine the consequence. Consequences must be aimed at behaviour, not at children personally. Daily household routines, such as bedtime, meals and baths should not be the target of consequences. These should remain enjoyable times. Parents must react immediately. The sooner children are cautioned, the sooner they learn to avoid misbehaving. As much as possible, rules should encourage what is appropriate rather than discourage what is inappropriate. 
  3. Be a good role model - If you expect children to adhere to rules and apply them, you should model the same behaviour.

Establishing Rules for Teenagers

  1. Involve teenagers in the process of making rules, setting limits and reaching decisions
  2. Keep calm and rational even when emotions run high
  3. Use this problem-solving method:
  4. identify the issue for negotiation
  5. brainstorm solutions
  6. evaluate and narrow down alternatives
  7. make an agreement, and,
  8. evaluate the outcome.