Negative Effects of Too Many Rules on Children

Your job as a parent is keep your children safe, healthy and happy. This is the reason you have rules in your household. Your rules are designed to keep your children’s behavior in check, but also to keep them safe and healthy. Your child might think you don’t let him play in the street because you are not fair, when all you want is to keep him safe. You know that rules are important, but you might not realize that as a parent you can set too many rules and that can have negative effects on your child.


One of the negative effects of having too many rules for your children is rebellion, according to the Palo Alto Medical Foundation 1. As your children become more mature and responsible, they typically want a little more freedom and independence to make their own decisions. If the sheer number of rules in your household prevents them from having some freedom and ability to make decisions, they are likely to rebel. They might start sneaking around or blatantly defying you. You need to enforce rules that keep your children safe and healthy, but not so many that they do not have any room to grow and mature.


Too many rules make it difficult for children, especially your younger children, to understand exactly what is expected of them. According to a web page on the University of Pittsburgh website, this causes confusion and uncertainty, which could lead to your children inadvertently breaking rules because they are confused about what is expected of them. To eliminate confusion, create a handful of rules that are easy to understand and provide safety for your children. For example, you can create a list of rules that prohibits hitting, disrespect, poor school performance and insubordination, and a list that encourages curiosity, education, nutrition and safety.

Drug Abuse

Your children are more likely to turn to drugs if your household rules are too severe, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. To avoid that, it recommends that you set clear rules that are easy to understand, and that you inform your children of the consequences for breaking said rules. Stay consistent in requiring your children to abide by the rules as well as enforcing consequences when they do not.

Avoiding the Negative Effects of Too Many Rules

It’s easy to think of new rules to impose, but it’s not always easy to remove rules from a list that borders on being too long. To avoid setting too many rules and risking negative consequences, take a long look at your rules and ask yourself whether each rule on that list is necessary to conduct order, promote good behavior and safety. Remove any rules that do not. Furthermore, according to the doctors at the Texas Woman's University Counseling Center, you should involve your children in coming up with rules in your household. Doing it together makes them feel as though the rules are fair and just, and makes them more likely to abide by them.

article divider