Parenting provides you with an unparalleled amount of satisfaction and happiness while simultaneously providing you with an unparalleled amount of frustration. You love your kids more than you ever imagined loving another person, but when they do not obey the rules and boundaries you’ve set for them, they frustrate you more than you imagined a child could. The rules you set for your kids are there for their protection and safety, as well as their personal growth and development, which means you need to learn how to get them to abide by the rules.
Define the rules to your kids. You cannot expect them to obey rules you set for them if you do not define them as simply and effectively as possible. If one of your rules is that hitting is not permitted at all, explain that. Tell your kids that they may not hit anyone, ever. That includes one another, you, their friends or anyone else. Don’t simply tell them that hitting is not nice, tell them that hitting is forbidden and will result in consequences.
Set consequences. If your kids do not obey your rules and you do not make them face the consequences of their actions, they will continue to ignore your rules. You must always set consequences for misbehaving and rule breaking, and you must always enforce said consequences. If your child hits his brother even though he knows hitting is not allowed, introduce the consequence of going to time-out or coming directly home from school rather than going to the park with his friends the following day.
Give your kids some choices. Instead of always commanding them, be a little creative when you want them to obey your rules. If one of your rules is that the playroom must be cleaned up each night before your kids go to bed, give them a choice when it comes to cleaning it up. Ask them if they want to clean it up now, before they eat dinner, or in an hour after they’ve had dinner and a bath. The feeling of being in control of the situation will make them more likely to obey your rules, since they feel that they had a part in deciding what needs doing.
Acknowledge your kids when they listen and obey your rules. Positive reinforcement is a powerful tool parents have. If you only acknowledge their poor behavior, you aren’t helping them feel good. By recognizing when they follow the rules and do what is expected of them, you make them feel proud that you are happy with them. This makes them more likely to continue to obey your rules in the future.