Example of House Rules and Consequences for Your Family
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Having family rules makes parenting easier. For real. And here’s why.
Family rules help children understand what is expected of them, both at-home and social expectations. It takes away random consequences that aren’t consistent or are confusing. It eliminates negotiations and debates.
Having family rules takes away the power struggle that can sometimes happen between you and your child (“House rules say…” vs. “I said…”), and it allows family engagement and unity.
I’m all about family rules. And for a good reason.
When I coach parents in positive parenting, I sometimes get asked, “but HOW do I set family rules, and can you send me YOURS?”
Setting family rules can sometimes feel overwhelming. For example, do you write down every single thing that the kids can and cannot do or just general things? And what happens when the rules are not followed?
I'm going to share with you how to set family rules and what to do if the rules are not followed, using logical consequences.
Let’s start with your views on family rules.
There’s a difference between authoritarian parenting and being authoritative. In positive parenting, you practice an authoritative role and warmly and kindly.
Research shows that authoritative parenting (aka positive parenting) results has a positive affect on children and in your parenting.
Here are some of the benefits of positive parenting:
- Better transition into schooling
- Increased psychosocial functioning in teens
- Higher self-esteem and competence for both parents and children
- Better social and cognitive development ( spanning from toddlerhood through adolescence years)
- A stronger sense of connection and attachment in toddlers
- The decrease in problematic behaviors
- Improved family communication, cohesiveness, and connection
- Increased self-regulation among children
- Increased resilience in children
A lot of good happens when using positive parenting. But, being authoritarian results in the complete opposite. The research tells us that children react more positively to house rules when you express them in a positive authoritative way.
In authoritarian parenting, you’re taking the approach of “Do it because I said so!” Which might feel familiar to you if you were raised that way, but it results in the feeling of firmness and coldness. (I had some experience as a child with authoritarian family members, and there was nothing in that style that made me respect or want to do better internally.)
Instead, it is well-documented in the research that when we make children feel good, they tend to want to do good.
RELATED ARTICLE: 67 Positive Affirmations for Children
In authoritative parenting, you are providing the boundaries and guidelines for your family. And you’re doing so in a positive -- warm, and kind way (if you’ve noticed, I’ve repeated this more than once because having those two words as cues are helpful when parenting at the moment).
Positive parenting is different than permissive parenting, in that you are acting as the mentor and role model for your family. But, you are doing so while being responsive and empathetic to your children.
If you’re finding yourself feeling, “But I said it, and that’s enough,” you may be reacting to learned behaviors that were shown by your parents in childhood. And if that’s the case, it will take rewiring your views on rules and parental authority to be able to implement your family rules in a positive, authoritative way.
Believe me, this isn’t me judging you. I, too, had to rewire my learned behaviors as a child. I say this because if we don’t approach parenting holistically, we can do all the right steps and not get the results we seek.
Your family dynamics determine your rules.
As a family, you already have expectations that are important to you.
Do this exercise to get started with creating your family rules:
Ask yourself, “If I was to choose three things that matter in our house, what would they be.”
What you come up with will be the foundation of your family rules. Don’t worry if you are having a hard time coming up with these. I will be giving you examples of what to put in your house rules.
Every member of your family needs to have the same rules. This is important. The rules are not for children solely, they are for the family as a unit.
Consistency among the family members is going to be the model for your child’s behavior. When house rules are not consistent or don’t apply to all members of the family, your child is confused and more likely to break the house rules without even intending to.
There will also be cultural components of your house rule. For example, in some cultures, it’s not acceptable to wear shoes inside the house, and instead, there are house slippers used. These household family rules will have this detail listed. In your family, make sure to add your own cultural guidelines.
It’s ok that your house rules will differ from other families. Your concern here is what your own child (and the rest of the family model) should know of their expectations in your family. Focus on that and that alone.
What happens when a house rules are broken.
I’m going to jump into this section before even giving you example house rules. And the reason is that following through on rules tends to be a big challenge for families.
You have these perfect rules you carefully crafted, and your child has other plans for them.
Sometimes parents feel helpless in their own set of family rules because they don’t’ know what to do when their children don’t follow the rules.
Maybe you tried punishments, taking things away, bribes, time-outs, etc. and none of these worked to help your child follow your house rules. If this is the case, you’ll find this section very helpful to you.
First, I will mention it again. When setting rules, you will have more success following a positive parenting authoritative style vs. an authoritarian.
Your child will respond better to a warm and kind approach, and with positive reinforcement, your child will find it easier to follow the family rules. And at the end of the day, that’s what we want as parents, right? A cohesive family with harmony and synergy.
Many parents parent out of fear. “I know I said no, but I’m going to let it go because it’s easier than what will happen if I stick to my no….” And that’s a defeating, frustrating place to parent.
So, let’s talk about consequences and how to determine them.
For every rule you have, you should determine the consequences.
In positive parenting, consequences are logical. And a logical consequence should be:
- Reasonable (for all involved)
If any of these is missing - it’s not a logical one. It’s a punishment. And punishments result in short-term learning (though can also affect your relationship with your child), but not long-term.
Here’s an example of a consequence that is not logical.
Your child didn’t put their toys away at the end of the day, so you took away the playdate they were supposed to have tomorrow. In that case, the consequences is not related to the action. Putting toys away the night before had nothing to do with a playdate the next day.
Here’s another example of a consequence that is not logical. You told your child that in your family, you don’t jump on the bed. Your child did precisely that, fell and bumped his head (sorry, now you will be singing that song all day...).
You then say, “See! That’s why we don’t jump on the bed.” Hey, you probably felt good saying that. After all, you tried to be logical with your child, and they didn’t listen and fell. But, that kind of response is not kind nor respectful. And it certainly doesn’t feel right or secure for your child.
The research has shown over and over that giving appropriate emotional responses to your child helps them to regulate their emotional responsiveness better. It helps them to become more emotionally mature.
What would be a good logical consequence? Keep in mind that there is more than one way of setting up logical consequences for an action. But, to give an example of a logical consequence for your child not picking up their toys:
- We can’t move on to the next activity until we do our responsibility of picking up our toys. Do you need me to help you get started?
But what do I do if my child gets upset?
Your child may get upset when you are implementing a consequence. It’s normal for a child to test their boundaries, especially when you are first starting with having house rules and consequences that you will follow through.
You need to remember that there are no “bad” emotions. When a child feels that their feelings are accepted for what they are (aka an emotion, not a “good” or “bad” emotion), they build emotional regulation positively. Isn’t that pretty cool?
For example, let’s say your child is angry that they are not able to do the next activity until they pick up their toys and (depending on the age) throws a tantrum. The emotional frustration your child is experiencing during a tantrum is not a "bad" emotion. It's simply an emotion like any other emotion we experience.
When you accept emotion as merely what it is and not view it as a “bad emotion”, you teach your child how to regulate their feelings best. Yes, even while they continue to have a full-blown tantrum.
Your acceptance of their emotions will pay off later when they learn not to internalize their feelings and show their feelings appropriately.
Example of House Rules
Your house rules should focus on DOs vs. the DON’Ts. Children have better behavior when rules parents positively frame house rules.
1. We treat everyone with kindness.
With this house rule, you are showing your child the expectation to engage with each other kindly. Even when you’re angry, you can engage kindly.
This house rule handles sibling rivalry, yelling at each other, being disrespectful, and other negative behaviors when engaging with each other.
2. We clean up after ourselves.
I’m a big believer in chores and cleaning responsibilities for children. After all, we are all part of the same team. Having cleaning responsibilities teaches your child life skills.
RELATED ARTICLE: Chores for Children (Ages 18 mos - 12 years old)
Examples include: picking up toys, putting their shoes away, helping to clear the dishes, making their bed, etc.
3. We use media at designated times.
If there’s even one media (television, iPad, tablets, computers, mobile phones) in your household, you have to have a rule around it. And again, remember that your house rules apply to you as well. Don’t make house rules you can’t follow.
The best way to handle media is to have designated times that your family will utilize media.
I like to choose times that work best for my child and me. For example, we don’t use media in the morning, but I will allow media after school work, before dinner, and at designated times at the weekend. My children don’t have to guess when it’s media time. They know it because it’s part of our house rules.
Did you know that having a positive attitude about media helps your child have open and honest communication with you?
When parents treat the media as bad or wrong, it closes up the communication lines between parent and child. Media can be beneficial (and I don’t mean that it gives you a break...which hey, it does), but children today engage socially in media as you do. When used in moderation, video games (which are often a social interaction for children) have no negative impact on their school grades and social skills.
I highly encourage you to discuss the positives of media and how to best use it in your household to maintain good communication with your child as they get into adolescence years (which begin as early as 8 years old).
The last thing you want is to set up an environment where your child has to hide their media interactions from you -- which is what happens when parents view media as unfavorable with their children.
4. We value education.
Whether your homeschooling or have your child in school, you may want to consider having this rule. This rule sets the expectations that your child must attend to their schooling and complete their homework and projects.
5. We have dinners together.
Did you know that families that have meals together help your child’s health and attitude towards food?
Of all the meals to focus on as a family, I recommend that you make family dinners a priority. Gathering at the family dinner table together each evening is where you can have some good engagement with your children, by going over their day, asking questions, having discussions, and connecting at the end of the day as a family.
6. We have fun.
What are the rules if we can’t have fun? I love having this rule in my own family rules since it reminds us that as a family we also do value enjoyment, adventures, and fun.
7. We listen the first time.
I'm sure you want to avoid this -- “Audrey, Audrey, Aaaaaaudrey, pick up your toys. Audrey, Audrey!” (Meanwhile, Audrey is literally in front of you and heard you the first time, but she knows you’ll continue calling a few more times)
Believe me, you'll appreciate having added this rule to your family rules.
8. Follow good hygiene.
Brushing teeth, taking a bath, putting on deodorant (if you’re not there yet with this age..you’ll be there sooner than you know it), washing hands are all good social and wellness skills to have.
Setting good habits for good hygiene begins in toddler-hood with washing hands and brushing teeth.
Go over your rules with your child.
I love family meetings. Meetings are when you can sit as a family, even if it’s for five minutes, and get feedback on desired activities, dinners, plans, etc. I also use this as a time to go over our family rules.
If you’re new to having rules, you’ll want to go over the rules every day with your child for about a week.
I keep my house rules written in a board (like these) in my kitchen where it’s visible to all.
Add lots of positive affirmations.
Set your child up for success. Let them know how well they are doing. Point out the good things they did each day. The more you fill your child’s vessel with positive affirmations, the better your child will feel inside, and the more positive the behavior will be.
So now you have some homework to do. Start by determining your house rules and follow the guidelines for doing so positively and mindfully. And soon you’ll have more peace and harmony in your home, which is always a good thing.
Want more for more mindful, holistic wellness and positive parenting resources? Check out Loom Mothers Circle!