Guidelines For Setting Rules
All children need to have limits set on their behavior. Here are some tips for writing good rules about the behavior that you're trying to change:
- First: Express each misbehavior as a clear rule. Examples are: "Don't push your brother" and "Don't interrupt me on the phone."
- Second: Also state the desired or acceptable behavior. Examples are: "Play with your brother" and "Look at books when I'm on the phone." Don't make your child guess at what you want. And praise your child for the good behavior.
- Third: Ignore unimportant misbehavior. If you have too many rules, your child won't listen. So ignore behavior such as swinging the legs or poor table manners during the early years.
- Fourth: Use rules that are fair and attainable. A child should not be punished for behavior that's part of normal emotional development, such as thumbsucking and toilet training accidents.
- Fifth: Concentrate on two or three rules initially. Give your highest priority to safety issues, such as not running into the street or hurting others. Of next importance is behavior that damages property. Then come all those annoying behavior traits that wear you down.
- Finally: It's best if parents agree on these rules, in advance.
If you have questions about discipline problems, consult your healthcare provider.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.
Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D. FAAP
Last Review: 6/1/2008
Last Revised: 6/1/2000
Copyright 1994-2008 Barton Schmitt, M.D. Parent Advice Messages.