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Establishing Rules For Your Children
by Greg Baker
4/12/2010 / Parenting
Setting rules for your children is a fundamental part of discipline. Honestly, you have no right to discipline, or punish a child for doing something that you never made clear was wrong. That's just not fair.
Shotgun discipline builds resentment in your children. Establish rules. Make sure that your kids know the rules, and make sure they know exactly what the consequences will be if they break the rules. The first thing to do is to make sure that you and your spouse agree on the rules and the consequences. Setting aside a time where you can discuss this is important.
Conflicting authority is the single greatest contributor to rebellion in a child.
My personal advice is to make the rules fairly broad so that they can cover a multitude of situations. There is really no way to anticipate every single situation, so I designed a list of rules that covers a wide scope of circumstances.
Here are a few of my rules. You'll have to determine your own, and the appropriate consequences (which are not shown here).
1. No lying
2. Always be respectful to adults
3. No fussing, tantrums, or fits
4. No direct disobedience
5. No fighting with siblings
6. No shouting
7. No arguing with Mom or Dad
(Note: as to the last one, I do have a method that I use to allow my children a platform to express their grievances. I'll discuss this in a different article.)
Your rules might be more specific to meet your specific situations, but it really doesn't matter, as long as you know what they are and the consequences associated with them. Consequences should be appropriate to the crime. You want to make it so that it's not worth it to your children to break the rule, but at the same time, you don't want to be guilty of cruel and unusual punishment.
Mean What You Say And Say What You Mean!
Most parents make a mistake when they do the popular counting thing when a child is doing something that you don't want them to do: "One, Two, Three..." All you're teaching a child is that you aren't really serious until you get to "Ten."
If you ever say, "I won't tell you again!" or, "This is the last time!" or some such variation, then you ought to know that you have taught your children that you are a liar. Your word doesn't mean much if you don't keep it. Honestly, most parents don't keep their word in this area because of the amount of time and energy it takes to properly discipline. Don't fall for that trap.
In my household, my children get one chance to do as their told. Only one. If they don't do it, they are disciplined for it. It's amazing how often our children do as their told right away and the first time.
Often, a parent will train their children to recognize that he isn't really serious until he reaches a certain volume level. They don't listen to what is told to them, they listen for the volume level.
A Great Method For Establishing Rules In Your Home
1. Write down all of your rules and the consequences of those rules on a piece of paper and tack it to the refrigerator or some other conspicuous place.
2. Take your children on a tour of this paper. Go over each rule, each consequence, and take questions from them. End it with, "Does everyone understand? Good. Here's the deal. When you break a rule you're telling me that you want the consequences of breaking that rule. I'll only give you the consequences when you tell me you want it--by breaking the rules."
3. Then, when one of your children breaks one of the rules, take him to the refrigerator and show him the list, and say, "Did you break that rule?" Wait for their response. "By breaking this rule, you told me that you want the consequence."
4. Do this with almost a reluctant attitude. Get them to think that the consequences are something that they imposed on themselves...not you. You want to convince them that the resulting discipline was their own fault--not yours.
5. Doing it this way, you don't have to shout, holler, yell, or threaten. Just escort them to the refrigerator. You'll find that they accept the punishment from you much more gracefully too. Discipline becomes a simple procedure at that point. They know they broke the rule, they knew in advance what the punishment would be, and they won't resent you.
But it is so important that you train your children to believe what you say, the first time you say it.
And don't make wild threats. That is degrading and will bring insecurity to your children.
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