Kids may not like the sound of rules, but they are necessary to keep order up, and chaos down in any household. According to the website "Kids Health," establishing house rules helps kids understand what parents expect of them, and helps develop self-control. When everyone is aware of the house rules, arguments over chores, watching TV and curfew are minimal. If you have not yet set up definitive rules for your household, you will likely find that implementing rules can make your household run a lot smoother.
Your kids should know that their character is of the utmost importance in your household. Character rules help the whole family develop character and communicate well. These can includes rules such as always telling the truth, respecting each other's things, respecting mom and dad, no name-calling and apologizing when you are wrong. List the most important character rules for your family somewhere where everyone will see them daily. You can have them printed out in a decorative way and put in a picture frame to hang somewhere in your home.
Come up with practical rules to help your household run smoothly. Your kids should know what you expect of them on a daily basis. For example, if you expect your children to do chores, come up with a chore chart that clearly spells out what each child's job is. That way, no one can say that he did not know what they had to do. If your children are in school, impose a set time for homework to ensure it gets finished. If mealtime is a battle, try implementing a "three-bite" rule, where the kids have to eat at least three bites of whatever is on the plate that they do not like.
Rules do not always have to have a negative connotation to them. List positive rules around the house that you want to encourage and inspire family members to live their best life. Have the whole family work together to come up with these positive rules. You can create a decorative sign or wall art with your family's positive rules, starting off with, "In this family we...," or "To be in this family you must...," then list positive, inspirational rules, such as, "Say I love you every day," or "Hug mom or dad once a day" or "Laugh a lot," "Help each other out," and especially, "Always say Thank You," and "Stay positive."
Have a weekly family meeting where you go over the house rules, and emphasize any that are not adhered to that week. However, be open to modifying rules as needed. Encourage your children to speak up about rules they are not happy with, and what they think is an alternative solution. Consider reasonable rule change requests. For example, if a 9:30 p.m. bedtime is not allowing your high schooler to get her homework done, let her stay up for another hour. If a rule change request is not reasonable, instead of saying "No," explain your decision as clearly as possible. Stay firm as to the consequences of also breaking rules, so that the kids fully know that they cannot get away with not abiding by the house rules.
Practice What You Preach
You and your spouse also need to follow the rules -- with no exceptions. According to family management expert Kathy Peel, you cannot build a strong family unit in a "Do as I say, not as I do," environment. If you do not allow shoes in carpeted areas, then take your shoes off, even if you are in a hurry to leave for work. Avoid setting double standards and be the example your kids can look up to.