4 Steps in Creating Family Rules

4 Steps in Creating Family Rules

Traveling Toddlers is a big component of family unity, family pride and family supporting one another, and strongly support the use of having family rules.  Family rules help create structure, reinforce expectations, and boundaries during planned and unplanned family or traveling events. When there are rules, children know what behaviors are okay and which ones are not okay. According to the CDC, the steps for creating family rules are below.

Step 1: Identify the family rules.

Identify and clearly define the rules that are important for your family. Family rules may be specific to a situation, like dinner time rules, or they can be specific to behaviors that are never okay, like running in the house, hitting a sibling, or jumping on furniture. Family rules should be important enough that you have no problem consistently enforcing the rules.

Step 2: Explain the rules.

Make sure your child knows and understands the rules. You can check your child’s understanding by having the child repeat the rule in his or her own words. Use terms that are positive vs. negative, i.e. we keep our hands and feet to ourselves vs. no hitting and kicking.

Children are often very visual, so it may be helpful to create a Family’s rules chart that you and your child can create together. The family rules chart should contain at least two columns: the rules and the consequences for breaking the rules. Pictures or visual cues can be used on charts for toddlers and preschoolers because they cannot read. Click here to create a family rules chart.

Step 3: Follow the rules.

Sometimes the family rules are not effective because all family members are not following or implementing the rules. Therefore, it becomes more about “do what I say and not what I do.” However, young children learn a lot about what is expected by watching the adults in their lives. This means they look to their parents to know how to behave.  When you see your child following the rules, you can let her know you see her making good choices by providing a labeled praise.

Labeled praise lets your child know exactly what she has done that you liked. The praise should occur as soon as you notice your child’s behavior. Praise should be used a lot when you create a new rule to help your child get used to this new expected behavior.

Step 4: Use consequences for not following the rules.

When family rules are always enforced, your child’s behavior and your relationship will be better. Therefore, your child must know and received immediate consequences when the rules are broken. Your child should not be hearing, when your dad/grandma/aunt etc. gets home, as this may reinforce the good cop/ bad cop image vs. a unified front.

In summary, it is important that we create family rules to support our children overall development as well as supporting them with transitions during planned and unplanned events and traveling experiences.

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