How To Set House Rules

It may sound like the stuff of dreams, but you really can transform a chaotic family home into a haven of peace and fulfilment. House Rules are an effective way of setting out what behaviour is acceptable in your household - and what behaviour is not

How many adults can put their hands on their heart and say they love living by the rules? As restrictive as it might sound, putting some House Rules in place for your children could make your home environment more relaxing – at last the kids know exactly what is expected of them, with no more ‘That’s not fair!’ or ‘But Dad lets us do it!’

House Rules can be pretty general, such as ‘No shouting’ or ‘No swearing’, but what’s important is that everyone in the house agrees to stick to them. Individual discipline problems, such as bad behaviour at mealtimes, might be better dealt with in a Reward Chart, which tailors a programme of rules more to the child or children.

Giving House Rules a try in your home

  • Decide on ten realistic rules which you and your child agree you can stick to.
  • Write the rules out and stick them on your fridge for all to see, near the Reward Chart. Use pictures or symbols for younger children. Try to write your expectations in a positive way where possible, for example, 'everyone must speak politely' instead of 'no swearing'; and 'put toys in box at the end of the day' instead of 'don’t make a mess'.
  • Refer to these rules when you’re going about your daily routine, and remember to praise your children when they do follow the House Rules.
  • Be consistent - if you change the rules your child may feel cheated and break them.
  • If a rule is broken, remind your child what it is - “remember, ‘no swearing’ is one of our house rules”, or you might consider some form of discipline, for example the Naughty Step.

By using this technique you are sending a message loud and clear to all the family: these are the boundaries, don’t cross them!

Related links

  • The Reward Chart: Positive attention and praise are the most effective rewards for good behaviour. As used on Supernanny, the Reward Chart is a useful way to reinforce good behaviour on the spot.
  • Superstars Reward Charts: Saying ‘well done’ to your child is the very best way to promote good behaviour. Download for free one of Supernanny’s ready-made Reward Charts.
  • Bedtime Routine: As seen on the show, the Bedtime Routine ensures your child gets enough sleep, while you get time to yourself…
  • Family Routine: As seen on the Supernanny show, setting up a Family Routine may help your family use time more effectively.
  • Resolving Your Discipline Differences: Relationship Counsellor Paula Hall from Relate has these practical tips for moving on from the one thing you and your partner may never agree about.
  • Kids and chores: How to create some housework harmony.... Check out our quick guide and get your family working together as a team to get the chores done!

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