Let’s look at it from your point of view. You’ve just arrived – new surroundings, new culture, new everything. What is the first thing you want to know? THE RULES.
How do you find the rules? Perhaps you ask the person in charge, or the person who invited you, or maybe you ask at the Tourist Information Desk, if there is one.
And the things you will learn: Look! People drive on the left, and bikes are everywhere in this city. Crossing the street will really be a challenge! What? Most businesses close between 1-4 every day? Really? And it’s not safe to drink tap water? Imagine if you didn’t know these things.
Your children need to know the rules. YOU are the person in charge, the person who invited them here; you are the Tourist Information Desk.
Here are the rules about rules
1. Make sure you have rules, and make sure your child understands what they are.
Believe it or not, kids really do want rules. It helps them navigate the road ahead so they can appreciate success. It also helps them understand your expectations. Kids want to please their parents, and pleasing is hard unless you let them know the rules.
2. Sometimes rules need to be altered, and that is ok.
But it should be done with discussion and understanding. If the rule is no play time until homework is done, and visiting grandparents want to take kids for ice cream and to the park after school, then that is certainly allowed – and an exception.
3. Just don’t keep changing the rules.
If the rule is no electronics during the school week, then there should be no electronics during the school week. Regardless of begging, crying, clever excuses, or comparisons that “Joey gets to use his iPad from seven to eight,” make your rules and stick to them. Exceptions should be just that – exceptions.
4. Absolute strictness is not what this is about.
Living in an environment where everyone understands the rules and lives within in them is the goal. Once kids know the rules, they will respect them and you. They’ll be proud because they have a parent who cares. Be a parent who cares; not just a pushover.
Do you have any ‘rule’ stories to share? Send me a note about how you make the rules work in your family.