How to Get My Kids to Follow the Rules


Part of your job as a parent is teaching children about boundaries and limitations. You can consider yourself a real success if your children know how to respect rules while still remaining happy and free to explore and expand their growing selves when appropriate.

However, how exactly can you achieve such a result?

Different Types of Rules

First of all, it’s important to know that there are different types of rules. These relate to different areas of human development and behavior as well as different settings. When establishing the rules, you have to keep these categories in mind.

Developing Habitsthere is a little boy washing his hands

Childhood is the place where many life-long habits are formed, so make sure you help them develop good ones. This is a broad category that contains many different rules, such as “wash your hands after dinner” or “make your bed in the morning.”

The important thing is to make these rules simple and consistent. They help get children through their daily routines in a way that establishes healthy order and prevents laziness and sloppiness.

Safety Rulesdon’t touch pots that are on the burner

It’s important for your kids to know very early about danger and ground rules should be established so that they understand it well.

Danger can come in many forms, so your children should be prepared both for physical risks like “don’t touch pots that are on the burner” and more subtle, emotional ones like “be respectful to everyone.”

These rules ensure that your child’s environment is a protected one where he or she can develop without fear.

Ethical Behavior rules such as “always tell the truth” or “don’t take things that don’t belong to you.” Of course, be sure to mirror these rules in your own behavior as well, as children will learn by watching you act and not just by what you say.

A central aspect of being a parent is teaching your children to act in a morally sound way in their treatment of themselves and other people. These rules should be enforced firmly and should include principles that help your child’s social and emotional development.

For instance, rules such as “always tell the truth” or “don’t take things that don’t belong to you.” Of course, be sure to mirror these rules in your own behavior as well, as children will learn by watching you act and not just by what you say.

Situational VS. Universal

Make sure your children also get a feel for the differences in context. We all know there are some things that are appropriate to do in our own homes, but not in other people’s houses or in the supermarket.

Set diverse types of rules so children know that different situations require different behaviors. However, also stress the rules that should always be respected, no matter what.

House Rules for Kids

Of all the different rules you can give kids, establishing house rules is especially important for the smooth functioning of your home. Every family will have their own needs to consider. However, here are some example house rules that can help you run your house smoothly.

Mom and Dad Are In Charge

One of the crucial things your children should learn is the importance of your authority as a parent. Don’t be afraid to stress this.

You need to be respectful towards your kids and always value their input, but ultimately, you are the one who makes the decisions and your children need to respect that.

Everyone Can Speak Their Minds As Long As It’s Respectful

It’s important that kids know they can express themselves in the home. Having strict rules doesn’t mean that your children shouldn’t get a chance to be heard and be part of the discussion when it comes to family matters.

However, make sure they know that they need to voice their opinions in a considerate and helpful manner, even when they’re angry or disappointed.

Clean Up If You Make a MessHow to get kids to clean up

It’s important to instill responsibility in children from a young age. Sometimes, it can seem almost easier to clean up after your children, since their inexperience means they’re going to take longer to do it and probably not as well as an adult can.

However, it is important to be patient and let them learn that they need to consider clean-up as a normal part of everyday activity.

Creating Your Own House Rules

It might seem overwhelming to create your own household rules, but don’t worry! Here are some general guidelines you can keep in mind.

Get the Whole Family Involved

You might think it would be counterproductive to involve your kids in establishing the rules, but it will help them feel valued and respected. Your family should ideally be a team and although parents are the leaders, all the teammates should get a say.

Sometimes, children come up with surprising and insightful rules, or at the very least, will be good at vocalizing causes of distress for them that can lead to the creation of specific rules.

Focus On Problem Areas  

Every family has its own specific and recurrent issues. These are the things which often lead to fights in the home. When coming up with house rules, make sure you think about these problem areas and what you can do to address them.

If your children have a hard time sharing toys, try to establish rules that will improve communication and respect for boundaries between them.

Make the List Short and Simple

Don’t overwhelm your kids with rules, as this will be counterproductive. They’ll feel overly constrained or just forget them if there’s too many, especially if they’re complicated.

If you have a lot of small, specific rules, try and group them into one big “overarching” rule that gets to the heart of the principle you want your kids to follow. For example, “be respectful to everyone that lives here” will cover a multitude of smaller issues.

Establish Punishment and Rewards

Your children need to know that rules are not just general guidelines. If you break a rule, there are consequences. That is how the real world works and your job as a parent is to help them learn this early on.

Make sure your kids know the punishments and rewards involved, so they can develop a clear sense of responsibility and agency. The punishments or rewards should be age appropriate and also grow in severity with the importance of the rule.

How To Get Kids to Follow Rules

Children can be difficult to handle sometimes, so setting up house rules is a must. However, sometimes, the little ones decide not to obey and you might not know what to do or how to get over the situation.


It’s important to remember that the rules you’ve established for the people in your household need to kept in orderly fashion – yourself included. No matter what happens, everyone must face the consequences for going against the rules.

Because if you can’t stay behind the line, it’s difficult to reprimand your children to do so as well. Try to keep everyone inside the house and those interacting with your children under the same rules in appropriate situations.

Kids are fast learners and they will learn a lot quicker if there are many living examples carried out right in front of their eyes.

Speak The Language

Sometimes, when we have our kids around us for too long, we forget that they are in fact children and perceive the world differently than we do. Once in a while, we need to take a step back and pay attention to the words we use when we’re making our rules.

Think about it:

A lot of times, we might think that our rules need to be as simple as possible for them to understand, but that might not always be the case.

We often shorten our rules to the point where our kids don’t know where the boundaries are. For example: don’t be naughty. If your child is still young, they probably don’t know what the difference is between being playful or naughty.

They might even do some things that seem cute to you in an everyday situation. However, when they catch you in a bad mood, you might get upset – and that confuses them. Pay close attention to your wordings and see if you’ve set clear guidelines for your kids to follow.

Making It Last

Now, discipline alone isn’t going to cut it – it isn’t that easy. Something many parents or authoritative figures miss when they are trying to discipline their children is this: explaining why they’re doing it.

When children are only reprimanded and not told why, then what they will remember is that they were punished when their actions have been discovered.

However, if you explain why they are being punished, what they did wrong, why it’s considered wrong and what they should do instead, they will be able to understand your actions more clearly.

Kids And Their Temperaments

All children have different temperaments; this is why each child reacts differently to every type of situation and disciplinary tactic. If your kids are the brave and reckless type, then being a little firmer will play positively on your side.

However, if your child is a calmer, more quiet type, then you might need to be a little gentler. Be adaptive to your child’s temperament and watch how they react to certain actions. If you know something that works for him or her, continue doing it.

If it doesn’t, don’t be afraid to venture out and try new things for the betterment of everyone.

Why Have House Rules?Why Have House Rules

Here are some key reasons as to why you need to have established house rules in your home.

Being Realistic

One thing we don’t realize as kids is that what we learn at home, we learn for the future. Having rules inside the house is just a simple taste on what it’s going to be like in the future when we’re adults. Later on, we realize that we can’t always get what we want, the way we want it.

Growing up with a sense of what rules are, why they’re in place and how we function when there are rules makes life a little easier for everyone. It also teaches your kids that later on in the future, they’ll have their turn to make the rules and call the shots.

What Comes Next?

Having your child grow up with a set of rules will give them a sense of knowledge. They’ll feel competent knowing what they need to do when certain situations arise. This will also help make your life a whole lot easier.

When kids know what to do and when to do it, it saves you a lot of time in the long run rather than having to tell them what to do every time they do something wrong. Having these rules set up will also help your child’s confidence.

When your child knows what a rule is when established and can abide by it, this will instill a little seed of confidence which will continue to grow as time passes.

Knowing that he or she is doing the right thing and will not face any punishments for their actions can help them be more confident in other things that they do. They will also be braver to try out new things as long as they know what they’re getting into.

This is especially helpful for children who might be on the shy or timid side.

Safety First

Probably one of the most important parts of having rules is safety. Signs and driving rules are implemented so that everyone can get where they need to go without any harm and this is the same for within the household.

We want our homes to be a safe place – for us to have fun and be together. Therefore, our children need to understand that rules are placed for a reason and need to be obeyed under all circumstances.

Importance of Following Rules

Other than the uses of having rules, here are some things that stress how important following rules can be.


Having your children follow rules will teach them to react properly in certain situations. If they have been taught from a young age, they will know that throwing tantrums isn’t the right response and that with civilized actions, a better outcome will usually prevail.

However, keep in mind that this will not be a one-time thing. You will need to repeat this process and remain patient. The value of self-control will begin to emerge after years of learning and discipline from abiding by rules.

They will learn how to control their actions, attitudes and mindset when it comes to facing different problems and situations.


Finally, after all that disciplining, we come to the core concept about rules and obeying them: consequences.

The Triple R’s


Whatever kind of punishment or consequence you give to your child if they have disobeyed, it needs to be related to whatever issue or problem they had in the first place. If your child purposely made a mess with his or her food on the table, then they will need to clean it up.

If they decide to hide someone’s things, then they will need to put them back. However, these rules may not be as simple as they sound.

Kids can get up to all sorts of mischief, so it’s up to you – the parents – to figure out what an appropriate and related consequence should be for whatever thing they had been up to.

As far as that goes, no TV when they didn’t do their homework might not be as effective as you think. After all, they might have not even been interested in the TV in the first place anyway!


Just like you, everyone wants to be treated with respect and dignity – even your kids. Even if they are too young to realize it, treating your children with respect does have a boomerang effect. In other words, you’ll eventually be treated with respect by your children as well.

First of all, leave out all types of forms of shame or humiliation. Don’t make them feel guilty for doing something bad, explain to them why what they’ve done isn’t right and what they should do instead.

Kids are bright and fast learners, so they should be able to take this information quite easily. When you don’t say things like “I told you so,” you aren’t putting the blame on him or her.

When you do this, your child will realize what their responsibilities are and what mistakes they have made in the process. This learning experience is far more important than anything you can say to them, as they will realize what they have done is wrong and will try to make it right again.


Whatever your child has done, no matter how irritating or difficult it might be to fix, they are kids after all and you can’t give them punishments that aren’t on par with the actions they have committed.

The point of teaching consequences is that they learn about what negative things they have done and how to change that into something positive in the future.

Make sure that they understand why and that it isn’t an experience to only threaten their sense of well-being, as they’ll only do it again – just when you’re not looking.

Teach Your Child to Follow the Rules

Disciplining your kids is not an easy job, but it’s something that all parents have to deal with. The biggest takeaway that you can have as a parent from reading this article is that you must really understand the world through their eyes.

They are innocent and have yet to fully understand the world around them – it is our job to educate and explain. Why we give rules, why they need to obey them and what happens if they don’t – all of these things may seem trivial.

However, they can really help create a more peaceful household and is a large benefit for your children in the future. They are, after all, still learning.

At the end of the day, they are our kids and we love them and that everything we do is for their benefit.


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