Discipline: How to make house rules


We don’t want to tell you how to discipline your child but we can offer you some support and ideas on how to set rules to reduce the amount of disciplining that is happening in your home. 


By Brittany Dyer


We all want our children to behave in public, right? But how can we effectively discipline our children to make this idea become a reality? How can we as parents appropriately discipline our youngsters with everyone still remaining joyful? How do we curb the rotten behavior and teach our little ones to respect others?

Let me start by saying this: Children, as well as adolescents, want rules and boundaries. I have counseled several children without appropriate boundaries, and they will tell me they act out because they want their parents to set limits for them. Rules help children feel safe and loved. Rules also state what is expected of your child before the time ever comes.

In this article, instead of telling you how to discipline, I will help you set the rules to decrease the amount of discipline you will need to use. Hopefully, this will also help your young ones behave in public and remain the respectful child you know they are. These techniques will work for all age ranges; you may just need to modify them according the the developmental age of your child.


Here are the best ways to create rules for your home:

  • Involve your child when creating rules. If you child is involved in creating the limits, then he cannot say he did not agree to the guidelines because he was there when they were created, and he helped create them.
  • The older your child, the more rules she will need. For instance, a toddler might need one rule, such as “Do as Mommy and Daddy say.” However, teenagers need more rules like completing chores or finishing homework.
  • If your child has trouble reading, draw him a picture of the rule. If your child is able to visualize the directions he has been given, he will have a better chance of conceptualizing it and following it.
  • Rules should be broad. You do not want to make specific rules covering every aspect of your child’s life. Those limitations will not produce a happy child. Also, if your child does not have trouble with an issue other children might, it’s not necessary for you to outline it for your child.
  • Limit the rules to no more than 10. Remember that you have to enforce each of these rules, so it might be more difficult to enforce too many rules.
  • Write rules in a positive connotation, rather than negatively. Stating rules in a positive light allows children to understand and be creative with what they can do, rather than focusing what they cannot do. An example would be: “Keep your hands to yourself.” It states what your child should do, as opposed to telling your child what she cannot do. An example of a rule written negatively would be: “No hitting.”
  • Make rules clear, brief and measurable, so that everyone knows when that rule has been broken. With each rule created, make sure it addresses a specific behavior. If the child does not know what behavior a particular rule is addressing, then the chances of him following that rule will be unlikely. For example, “Respect others.” is difficult to understand; what is meant by respect? Be more specific in describing how you would like your child to respect others.
  • Rules can always be added, changed or taken away. As your child grows, you will likely need to add additional household rules. Remember to include your child when you make changes to the rules.
  • It’s important that each person living in the house follow every rule created. Children, parents and others currently in the house need to abide by each rule given. It’s hard for a child to obey one set a rules when others they look up to are following a different set of rules. Therefore, make sure when you are creating rules, they are rules that each family member can follow.
  • Post your rules in a place where everyone will be able to see them, such as the refrigerator.


Here are some practical examples of easy to follow and easy to explain rules:

  • Keep your hands and feet to yourself.
  • Always tell the truth.
  • Talk nicely.
  • Follow instructions the first time.
  • Complete homework when you get home from school.


Good luck parents! 

To read another article about what our international moms had to say about discipline click here!

photo by David D CC BY 2.0

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