It is wise to decide with our children, when they are old enough, on some appropriate guidelines for harmonious living. Children need to be socialised so that they can live and work successfully in the world at large. We want them to relate well with others and to be responsible, caring and constructive members of society.
If we can discuss rules, before any problems are ingrained, we will prevent much hardship for everyone. Prevention is always better than cure. Family meetings can be arranged so that each person can be heard and ideas brought out. Negotiation, problem solving and resolution of conflicts are important for the smooth running of families (and communities). If rules are agreed on by everyone, family members will have more structure and security. Flexibility is needed as children grow. Eg, an older child can be allowed to stay up or stay out later.
But with more freedom comes more responsibility. Deciding on some basic rules helps the family members to feel more safe, empowered and respected. These guidelines will need to be updated regularly. Different rules will apply to different ages. Consequences for breaching the rules can be decided on with input from the children. Eg, Luke is not able to gain access to the board game, until he has tidied up the Lego he was playing with. Martha’s dinner is cold because she was late to sit at the table. Jack has no clean shorts to wear because he didn’t put them in the wash basket.
Reminder charts can be put up to help family members to follow the rules more easily.
Some suggested rules to consider are:
- Respecting others (no hitting, biting, punching,
- scratching, kicking, spitting, pinching, swearing etc)
- Name calling is unacceptable
- Walking only in the house
- Balls may only be rolled in the house
- Inside/Outside Toys
- Active play outside
- Yelling and screaming outside
- Eating at the table or outside
- No food in rooms other than the family/dining/kitchen area
- TV and radio volume kept low
- One activity tidied before starting a new one
- Dirty clothes to be placed in the wash basket
- If unable to be home by (agreed time), contact mum or dad