Welcome to our very first Parenting Tip Tuesday! For those of you who don’t know, we do a lot of parenting coaching at Clarity Counselling Group and are always happy to. We believe that parents who take the time to
learn how to be better at what they do at home are GOOD parents!
One of the most common questions that arises in parenting coaching sessions is the question around house rules. House rules set the foundation for how families function together, behave towards each other and interact in the outside world, but how many is enough? How do we teach them? And how do we use them? Many of you have heard us talk about the Triple P Parenting Program –one of the most renowned parenting programs worldwide. The good news, is that Triple P has a great answer to these questions. Whether you call them house rules, ground rules or family rules, here are some pointers:
-Keep it short! Many families struggle with too many house rules. The problem with this is that too many rules can be too hard to maintain and support, we lose track of them, and they lose meaning. So, keep it short! 4-5 REGULARILY followed ground rules at a time can be just enough to keep things on track. Think of it this way –wouldn’t you rather have 4-5 ground rules that everyone in the family follows consistently rather than 10+ with not even half being followed and maintained?
-Word them positively! Instead of keeping track of what everyone in the family CAN’T do, let’s keep track of what they CAN do! This can dramatically change the culture of things at home and contribute to making things much more positive. When you’re coming up with a list of ground rules, watch out for anything that starts with ‘Don’t’ or ‘No…’. Instead of that, try wording like, ‘We talk nicely to each other.’ Or ‘We walk nicely in the house.”
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-Be sure that everyone is prepared to follow the same rules! Of course this depends on everyone’s ages and what we can reasonably expect from children of each age group, but one of the biggest reasons why ground rules fail to work, is because not everyone is following them, and that means YOU, Mom and Dad! If the ground rule is that ‘We speak nicely to each other,’ that means parents speak nicely to each other, parents speak nicely to the children and the children speak nicely to each other and to their parents. If one of your house rules is that “We eat our food in the kitchen,” that means EVERYONE eats their food in the kitchen. This can be a difficult adjustment sometimes but remember, it is what children see their parents doing that has one of the biggest impacts on their behaviour.
–Setting up ground rules can take some careful planning! Be sure that you have plans in place for if/when rules are broken. If you don’t have a plan in place, don’t initiate the rules quite yet. You don’t want to be stuck trying to think of a consequence on the spot. Take the time to map out what misbehaviour you anticipate and how you will respond when it happens. This allows parents to respond more calmly and confidently.
-Once the ground rules have been discussed with everyone in the family, and you’re all on the same page, make sure the rules are displayed in at least one place in your home –at a kid-friendly height for everyone in the family to refer to.
We know that this can be a lot to take on –on top of the business of everyday life in a family. If you’re struggling with understanding ground rules, or how to implement them, don’t hesitate to ask for help. A therapist, counsellor or parenting coach can support you in walking through the process from start to finish and help you to feel confident in what you’re doing. If these ideas don’t feel like a natural fit for you and your family, keep looking! There are countless parenting programs and tips out there, so don’t be afraid to ask for help so that you can find the right fit for you and your family!