Living With Rules
Rules for Outside the Home
When you set limits, both you and your child will know what to expect from a given situation. Check out the following guidelines.
- Be specific: Say exactly what you mean and give details so there is no confusion.
- Offer choices: Make sure you believe that any option you offer, and therefore any choice your child makes, is okay.
- Be firm: Use clear and definite words when you want to insist on your child doing what you say. This is particularly important when it involves your child’s health and safety.
- Accentuate the positive: Choose words that steer clear of no, stop, and don’t. Instead, emphasize what you want (and why), rather than what you don’t want.
- Keep yourself out of it: When addressing negative behavior, refer to the house rules rather than the house "ruler."
- Explain why the limit is needed: A request or a rule can seem arbitrary if the child doesn’t know why it is in place. Reiterate the rule, then explain the reason behind it.
- Suggest an alternative: A child's request might not be unreasonable, just inconvenient. Rather than rejecting the idea, suggest another, more convenient time or place for the activity.
- Be consistent: Stick to the house rules — all the time. That way, your child will always know what to expect and what is expected of him/her.
- Disapprove of the behavior, not the child: Make sure your child understands that you object to a specific action or activity and NOT her/him.
- Control your emotions: You can diffuse a "hot" situation if you are in control of yourself. If necessary, step back to compose yourself before weighing in.