TIP: HOUSE RULES
by Dr. Carol Renaud Gaffney
Copyright Carol R. Gaffney, Ph.D. 1996
As much as is said about house rules and how effective they are, there is often little direction given in how to write them. This became very apparent to me when I was working with a family with several young children.
We started by jotting down what was expected. This was a fairly random list without much organization but by the time the list was complete what the parents wanted seemed to fall into just a few categories. There were rules around household chores, rules around school, rules about playing and rules about how to treat other people.
The parents at first were thinking of all the things they didn’t want their kids to do – don’t have a messy bedroom, don’t hit, don’t fight, don’t forget, etc. Then they realized that they were not telling them what they wanted, just what they didn’t want. That changed the outcome dramatically.
Now the list became manageable and it was very positive. The rules were simple "do’s" Do homework by a certain time, play with your brothers like they were your friends, listen and take action when your parents speak, etc.
House rules are to be posted where everyone can see them – the refrigerator and in each bedroom. Include house rules for the parents as well. What is on the list changes as circumstances change. Items can be negotiable but are in place until a group decision is made. This is much easier to keep up with when you have regular family meetings.