How To Make Young Children Follow The Rules

Children need rules to get their life organized and to keep them safe from harm. However, for children, rule may look unfair, especially when it says they can’t do particular things they like so much such as running around the house with muddy shoes or burning leaves in the garden. Below are some issues to consider when creating rules for your children and some tips to make children follow family rules.    

Involve children in the rule making process
Allowing children to voice their opinions on what they can or cannot do and to engage them to decide the punishments if

they don’t follow the rule are good ways to teach your children responsibility. Children will know exactly what the rules are. This will make children adhere to the rules without being asked because they feel a sense of ownership toward those rules; they are “our rules” not just “mom’s rules”.

Decide what is important
Too many rules will not be effective. Rules that concern the child’s safety are the most important and should be the ones first communicated to your children.

Keep your rule simple
Avoid using adult-like concept, use child-like thinking instead. Age-appropriate language will help children to understand and adhere to the rules. It is also important to keep the rules clear. Instead of saying “don’t play with pointy objects’” (which could include even a harmless carrot), please just say, “don’t play with forks”.

Make reasonable rules
What is and is not reasonable depend on the condition of your house and your family. It will not be reasonable to tell your children not to touch a colorful glass bowl if the bowl is placed in the children’s study room. You better remove the bowl to a safe place out of children’s reach.

Explain to childen why rules are important
The way to teach the children why rules are important is by letting them know the consequences if they break the rules or by letting them suffer the consequences themselves. For example, the rule is “not to run around newly-wiped floor. You can explain that if your kids run on a wet floor they will fall and hurt their knees. If they keep running around, let them fall, so they’ll know it hurts. However, make sure that any accident will not cause major injuries (free the room of any

sharp, big blunt or pointy objects).

Be consistent
Once you tell your kid not to run around the house with muddy shoes, you have to keep telling him “no” every time he wears his muddy shoes inside the house.

Explain how to follow it
Before they can follow any rules, children, especially the very young ones, need to know how they can follow them. The clearer the how-to instructions, the more they will be able to remember them. Break the rules into steps easily understood by children. For example,  the “put away toys after playing” can be said as, “take one toy from the floor, put it inside the toy basket, push the basket under the bed”. You have to do it together with your child several times until he can master the steps.

Repeat, repeat, repeat
Children need repetition before they get use to the rules. Go over the rules with children over and over.  For older kids, you can also draw some graphic symbol of the rules or list them out and display them in clearly visible and frequently visited places around the house.

Do not expect your children to always follow the rules.
Children may break the rules for various reasons, maybe they forgot or simply curious. Be forgiving and understanding. Go over the rules with your kids again after you have done the necessary disciplinary measure.

Make yourself a good example.
Parents are children’s number one role model. Follow the rules yourself. Actions speak louder than words. You cannot expect your child to adhere to your rules if you keep breaking them, no matter what are the reasons. If you do not follow the rules your kids will not. 

Article Written By Yovita Siswati

Yovita Siswati is a blogger at

Last updated on 17-05-2016 89 0

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