You may find your 6-year-old interrupts you when she has something to say. The National Network for Child Care says 6-year-olds are still very self-centered but are interested in learning rules. She is able to understand waiting for her turn, so you can explain, "Do not interrupt me when I am speaking." This social rule can be enforced with no discipline. As she becomes more "grown up" and possibly cheeky, it can be a good time to introduce a rule of no talking back to adults. Her school will have a rule of not hitting or pushing other children and this is something you can reinforce as a parent. Remind her, "You may feel cross at your brother, but you must never hit."
As your 6-year-old will often eat outside of the home now, you can provide him with rules about acceptable behavior during mealtimes. These rules will depend on the child and vary from household to household but may include: "Don't get down from the table without asking or during a meal," "Don't talk with your mouth full" or "Use your cutlery, not fingers." If you have a fussy eater, rules may involve always trying a bit of each food or "no pudding if you don't eat your meal."
You no doubt have always had rules in the home, but these may need adapting as she gets older. A curious and adventurous 6-year-old needs to know what is "out of bounds" in the home. She may now be able to reach the cutlery drawer or the oven handle so teach her to never touch these. She is old enough to take more responsibility for her things, so your tidying rules could be "Put away the toys you take out" or "Keep your own bedroom tidy." Experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say at this age, children benefit from consistent boundaries such as rules about how much TV they are allowed to watch and what their bedtime is.
Rules Outside the Home
Many of the rules needed for outside of the home relate to safety issues. At 6, he is becoming more independent and you may need to remind him "Never run off so you can't see me in the park" or "Always hold my hand in a parking lot." Rules for the car could include no fiddling with his safety belt and no screaming or shouting when you are trying to drive. It is impossible to have rules for every eventuality, so a useful rule when you are out and about is "Stop what you are doing and listen right away when I call your name." You can explain this is because he may be in danger.
A student will not automatically know what is expected of him at school. Take some time at the beginning of each school day to go over the rules. These may be as simple as raising a hand when you have something to say, saving running for playing outdoors or offering help to fellow students in need. Rules should be created to reflect individual behavior, as well as group behavior. Keep these behavior rules somewhere in the classroom that is clearly visible to all of the children in the class. You could write them on a chalk board or create a behavior bulletin board.
Involving the students in creating and discussing the behavior rules and regulations for the classroom gives the children a sense of ownership. They will be more inclined to follow the rules when they understand that they took part in making them. Ask the students if they have any rules they'd like to add. One student may point out that there should be a rule about messy behaviors, while another wants to make sure that butting in line is not allowed. If the requests are reasonable, add them to the list.
Behavior charts are especially helpful for preschool and elementary students. Instead of focusing on negative behaviors, use the chart to reflect good behaviors. The chart may have the name of each student on it with a box next to each name for every day of the week. When the student practices good behavior, add a sticker to the box next to his name. Give a little reward to the students who have demonstrated good behavior the entire week. It can be something as simple as a doughnut party or a gift of a small pencil. Children who miss out on the first reward will want to practice good behavior the next week to obtain that special prize.
Be prepared to follow through with any consequences that have been established for bad behavior. This may be anything from keeping the offending child from attending the doughnut party, to calling the child's parents in for a meeting. If two children are fighting over a toy, the punishment may be having the students sit in time-out chairs for five minutes. Whatever the consequences are, the children should be well aware of them ahead of time. Simply remind the student of the offense and corresponding consequence, and then follow through with the punishment.
According to psychologist Rick Nauert of the website PsychCentral, modeling civil behavior is an important task for parents because teenagers often emulate the way they see their parents behave and interact with others. Showing respect to your teen, partner and people in the community can model civil behavior for your adolescent. Simple acts, such as saying “please” and “thank you,” and handling disagreements constructively can be good ways of establishing rules of civility for teenagers.
Importance of Rules
Without clear rules for what civil behavior looks like, it's difficult for teenagers to understand exactly what you expect of them. Talk to your teenager regularly about what type of behaviors you expect. For example, have regular discussions about how you expect your teen to behave at home, at school and online. In addition to setting rules, parents should also try to understand teenagers' inappropriate behaviors and use errors in judgment as opportunities to teach rather than just punish, according to a web page on the Brigham Young University website.
Consistency, Reinforcement and Punishment
Rules of civility will have little effect on teenagers if you do not enforce them. Along with enacting appropriate punishments for breaking rules of civility -- for example, taking away computer privileges for using rude language online-- parents should reinforce positive behaviors with praise. It is also crucial for parents to enforce rules consistently. This will help teenagers understand that these rules of civility are expected behaviors, not mere suggestions for how to behave.
General Rules of Civility
Most teenagers can benefit from basic rules of civility, such as showing respect for other people’s emotional and physical boundaries, including asking before using other family members’ possessions. Likewise, parents might set rules on handling disagreements in appropriate ways -- for example, talking calmly about how conflicts affect them, rather than yelling or slamming doors. Rules of civility might also include rules against cursing, name-calling or other derogatory language.
Conduct experiments under the supervision of an adult. While many of the experiments your child might want to conduct at home do not contain hazardous materials, you still have the potential for explosive results. For example, vinegar and baking soda might seem harmless, but mix them together and you have a volcano -- add any food coloring to that and you have one big mess to clean up if the experiment was not properly supervised.
Use protective equipment. Home experiments probably don't involve heating chemicals with a Bunsen burner, but even the mixture of vinegar and baking soda can sting if it gets in your child's eyes. Use safety glasses, where a smock or apron to protect clothing, and using gloves when an experiment requires coloring agents will mean less scrubbing you have to do in the bath later.
Learn how to handle an emergency, even if you don't anticipate a big emergency. For example, vinegar in the eye might not seem like a blinding emergency, but it does sting because it is an acid and can cause damage to the cornea. Know before your child begins an experiment what substances are used, what negative effects can occur, and how to respond quickly and appropriately.
Keep long hair tied back and wear experiment-safe clothing. Your child's sleeves should be rolled up -- even when an experiment is safe, a dangling sleeve can knock things over and make a mess. Opt for form-fitting clothing and ensure aprons are secured properly.
Research the experiment ahead of time and stick to the plan. Spontaneously adding different paint colors together to see what color it makes is OK; adding ingredients at random from the cupboard to see what reaction takes place probably is not. Conduct a little research before your child begins any experiment to ensure all aspects and ingredients are safe and then do not deviate from the experiment's instructions.
Things You Will Need
- Safety glasses
- Smock or apron
- Hair tie
- Form-fitting clothing
Find a time when you and your teenager can sit down to write out the contract together. It’s important to get your teen’s input so he feels involved. Your teenager might feel a greater sense of responsibility to follow the rules if he helped develop them.
Create a list of expectations for your teenager. Include rules such as curfews, homework time, school performance, cell phone use and chores. The contract should be designed to help your child make good choices, so keep the expectations reasonable and short. A long list of rules can be overwhelming.
Make a list of consequences if the rules in the contract are broken. Some consequence examples include grounding or phone privileges being limited or taken away. Ask your teen for suggestions so he feels a sense of responsibility.
Include rewards that recognize your teen’s good behavior. Keep track of your teen’s progress in following the rules with check marks, one-on-one discussions or another tracking system that works for your family. Some reward examples include later curfews, car privileges or a raise in allowance.
Set a time limit on the contract such as three months. Your teen will be more likely to agree to the contract if he knows there is room for changes once trust is established. Sign the contract to signify commitment once you and your teen have agreed upon the contract.
Kids Can Help
During the first week of school, kindergarten teachers typically talk to the students to explain basic classroom procedures, outline her expectations of the kids, and describe the types of behavior that are -- and are not -- acceptable. She might ask the students to help her come up with a list of rules for their classroom, though she will gradually steer them to come up with the rules she already has in mind. If the kids get to help create the list of rules, they may feel more invested in following them.
Teaching the Rules
Kindergarten teachers often make a production out of posting or displaying the rules, so the kids understand their importance and that they apply to everyone in the classroom. As the students' reading skills improve, the teacher can return periodically to the posted rules and ask the kids to try to pick out the words themselves. The kids will repeat the rules with the teacher often, to help them remember the rules and remain focused on following them.
Kindergartners need to learn a few very basic rules relating to safety. Just as your teach your kids not to run in the house, your child needs to learn not to run in the classroom or the hallways at school. The rule may be worded directly -- "no running in school" -- or transformed into a positive approach: "Use your walking feet inside." Other safety-related rules might include "clean up your area" and "walk when carrying scissors."
Works and Plays Well
The other primary focus of kindergarten classroom rules is appropriate ways to interact with classmates. Again, these can be phrased as a prohibition -- "don't hit your classmate" -- or as a positive instruction: "Use your words, not your hands." Learning to wait their turn to talk is hard for youngsters this age, so "don't talk while others are talking" or "raise your hand" are common rules. Paying attention to the teacher is another important skill for these young students to master, so that may be on the list of rules in some classrooms. In others, the teacher will teach the students that a simple signal, such as three sharp hand claps, means quiet down and focus on the teacher.
Keep it Simple
Too many rules, and life can become unnecessarily complicated. For best results, set fewer rules for toddlers, advises the Utah State University Extension. Focus on the most important rules that will keep your child safe, like not running into the street, staying off the stairs and not standing or bouncing on the bed.
Toddlers have a limited vocabulary and attention span, so it is important that you communicate clearly, and concisely, according to the University of Missouri Extension. Keep sentences short and specific when you give your toddler instructions or commands. For example, instead of giving an involved explanation, simply say, “No climbing the stairs. You could get hurt.”
The daily routine that guides a toddler’s days will be of paramount importance to your little one’s security. When a toddler knows what to expect from day to day, it is easier for him to follow rules and stay within boundaries, states the University of Alabama Parenting Assistance Line. Not only does a daily routine provide security, it also reduces some of your toddler’s proclivity to test limits and misbehave. Essentially, a daily routine will help set the stage for a toddler who is ready and willing to follow rules.
Consistency is one of the most important ways to you teach rules. For your little one to learn what you want and don’t want him to do -- be consistent, according to the article, "The Top Ten Rules of Positive Discipline to Teach Toddlers," from the Good Behavior the Maternal Infant Health Outreach Worker from Vanderbilt University. For example, since jumping on the couch is off limits, enforce this rule consistently. If you allow your toddler to jump on the couch some days and not on other days, he may become confused.
As you institute consistent limits and expectations for your toddler, encourage his cooperation with plenty of positive reinforcement, offers Purdue University. Positive reinforcement in response to following rules or behaving in accordance with your expectations might be praise, hugs or even a trip to the park for a job well done. Positive reinforcement helps children learn which behaviors you desire, and it motivates them to repeat desired behaviors.