Rules for a 6 Year Old

Now that your 6-year-old is at school and "all grown up," he will benefit from some clear rules about his routine, safety and behavior expectations. Children of this age are often eager to please, but may test the boundaries if not provided with a positive set of instructions to follow.

Social Rules

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 4. 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."

Eating Rules

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."

Household Rules

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 3.

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.