You are in charge … Set rules and limits!

Being a parent means you are in charge. You know what’s best for your kids and you have the authority to insist on it. There are times when you don’t have to explain, discuss, debate, and arrive at consensus. Set up, insist on, and enforce the rules and limits that you believe will develop the virtues necessary for your children to be respectful and responsible in all their relationships.

Rules should be simple and clear with reasonable and consistent consequences when broken. Here are a few ideas:

In a conflict, no hurting (hitting, kicking, pinching, etc.) is ever allowed.
The consequence is to separate the combatants so that they cannot see each. If each has a room, send them to their room.

No fighting in the car.
It is distracting to the driver and therefore unsafe. If it occurs, pull over and stop until all is calm again. If it occurs too often, travel less or less with the culprits.

No name-calling, yelling, tattling, put-downs or insults.
Offer calm verbal reminders based on a Marshall Rosenberg’s “language of respect” as discussed in

Observation: “That’s disrespectful and mean.”

Feelings: “I am disappointed with that kind of behaviour.”

Needs: “I need to see everyone in our family treat each other with respect.”

Request: “We promised that we would. I don’t want to hear that, or anything like it, again.”

No disturbing another’s peace.
Teach the children about allowable noise levels. Recognizing the difference between inner and outer voices and when they are appropriate or not is a good start. Coin a phrase or expression to signal that the limits have been reached and more socially-acceptable behaviour must follow. For example:

Observation: “The noise level is way past inner voices.”

Feelings: ”I am distracted and bothered so much I can’t even think.”

Needs: “I need some peace and quiet to finish what I’m doing.“

Request: “Please calm down.”

No fighting over a toy.
The toy goes into time-out.

No borrowing without putting up collateral.
The collateral will be returned only when the borrowed item is returned.

Any child who demands to be first, will go last.
If arguing over who gets first choice of bedtime stories or favourite seats in the car is a problem, assign your kids certain days of the week to be the one to make these choices

No making fun of a child who is being disciplined.
If you do it, you have earned to be disciplined even more.

Hope you get the idea. You might want to add other rules and limits about good manners, dinner together, keeping common areas clean and safe for everyone, homework and play time, TV and Internet time, and so on.

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