Few Rules Are Better

Rules are usually put in place to keep children safe and to provide structure in their lives and rules are important.

However bombarding children with too many rules and especially rules that are ineffective and senseless may cause more harm than good.

 

Parents usually set rules with the intention to act in the best interest of their children.  However, they have become overwhelmed by what they hear every day about new drugs, violence and bullying and they some parents get anxious as they try to protect their children with rules.
 

Hence they set more and more rules as they feel the need to protect their children but many of the rules cross the line and some are really unrealistic and they do more harm than good.

 

Too many rules can confuse and overwhelm children and they are a good cause of rebellion.

Rules are usually put in place to keep children safe and to provide structure in their lives and there need to be rules, but children today are bombarded with rules that are ineffective and senseless.

 

Parents usually set rules with the intention to act in the best interest of their children.   They are so overwhelmed by what they hear every day, new drugs, more violence, bullying of children even on the internet and so it is scary for them.  Hence they set more and more rules as they feel the need to protect their children but many cross the line.

 

Too many rules can confuse and overwhelm children and they are a good cause of rebellion.

 

As your children become more mature and responsible, they are going to need a little more freedom and independence to make their own decisions.  If the sheer number of rules in your household prevents them from having some freedom and ability to make decisions, they are likely to rebel and inadvertently break the rules because they are confused about what is expected of them.

 

To eliminate confusion, create a handful of age appropriate and sensible rules that are easy to understand and provide safety for your children.  Let your child know what behaviours will be accepted and what will not be tolerated. For instance, you can make a rule of ‘no hitting’ and sit down with the child and explain why he should not hit and the consequences of hitting.  Let him know that the person he hits might hit him back even harder and there can be serious injuries so it is best to never hit.  You must also let him know the punishment for hitting.

 

Once you have decided on a few important rules, explain them clearly to your child. If a young child is going to follow rules, he needs to understand what is expected of him.  Clearly define the consequences of breaking the rules.

 

Confusion can also arise when a child is bombarded with a different set of rules at home and at Granny’s house or another family member's home or even at a friend’s home where the rules are totally different or non-existent.

 

Talk to relatives and discuss appropriate rules that can be applied at home and when your child is visiting family and friends. You can also explain to your child that different people have different rules at their homes and they should follow those rules.  

 

However, it is best to try to get family members to agree upon a few certain rules to make it easier for the child to follow them.

 

Involve your child in the rule-making process. Although toddlers and preschoolers aren’t old enough to help create rules that will protect them from harm, they can participate in creating rules at home, like rules for picking up their toys.

Children might be more likely to follow rules they help create and agree to since it gives them a sense of control over their behaviour.

 

When raising my own child, I must admit, I had very few rules, if any.  I am a strong believer in leading by example and if I did not want my child to hit, I did not hit. 

 

Children are watching our every move and hearing every word we say and how we say it and as many rules as you have (eg.) about shouting, if you are constantly shouting, your child will shout.

 

I recall the day when my daughter was in the kitchen and I did not want her near the stove.  Knowing that my little ‘princess’ never understood the word, ‘don’t’, I knew it was pointless telling her, “don’t touch the stove”, as that would certainly have given her the challenge that she often sought.   I took the opportunity to speak to her about the stove, showing her the fire and talking about heat and hot and then I took her finger and let her touch a part of the stove that was barely warm, but warm enough for a two year old to call it ‘hot’.  I remember, her pulling away and saying, ‘hot’, ‘burn’ and at that point, I moved out of the kitchen saying that the stove was hot and it burns.  I did not have to say, ‘don’t touch’, she understood that the stove burns and she never went into that kitchen if that stove was on. 

 

So if you are going to set rules for your children, I suggest that you lead by example and talk as much as possible to your children telling them why you do things the way you do and why you do not and have small discussions. 

 

Get them in positive activities and spend time with them, grow with them and show them how to behave.

© 2011 Barbados Children Directory

 

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