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A happy family makes a happy home, right? Of course, it does. If parents and children are able to live together in harmony then there is no place more loving and full of joy than a family home.
Any parent will tell you though that living in harmony with your children isn’t always a guarantee, especially when toddler tantrums or moody teenagers are involved.
When there are chores to do, disagreements to settle, and sibling squabbles to negotiate, sometimes family life can feel anything but harmonious and joyful.
Do you feel out of control in your own home? Do you wish your children would listen to you more and show you, their siblings, and the house where you all live together with some more respect?
There is a way to help family life to tick along smoothly, a not-so-secret solution to lead you one step closer to the blissful family life you imagined before your kids arrived – you need to set some family rules.
It is not unheard of to watch your child run a mile in the opposite direction when the ‘R’ word is mentioned, but setting some key family rules is essential for raising kind, considerate, respectful and happy kids.
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When To Introduce Family Rules To My Kids?
You might be thinking, ‘my child is too young for rules’. Unless they are a newborn baby or in their first year of life, your child isn’t too young to start learning the concept of rules.
When your toddler hits one of their toddler buddies on a play date, what do you do?
You tell them it is not OK to hit, you tell them to use their gentle hands next time and that we need to be kind to our friends, you encourage them to say sorry if they have the verbal skills to do so.
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It’s a little yet essential rule and when listened to will help your toddler grow into a kinder and more caring child.
No one would expect your two-year-old to be doing their own laundry or taking out the trash but you can begin to introduce small chores and rules so they are less resistant to more demanding tasks and concepts as they grow up.
5 examples of family rules for a toddler
- We use kind hands
- We play nicely with our toys
- We say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’
- We tidy our toys into the toy box when we are finished playing
- We keep our food on our plate or in our tummies, not on the floor
As your child grows and their understanding and vocabulary develops, you can begin to introduce more chores and family rules.
There is no harm in making your child aware of the family rules before they have the understanding to take on board what you are saying, just manage your expectations.
If the family rules have been a part of a child’s life without them fully grasping the concept then when it is time for them to actively start following the rules, you have already laid the foundations and provided them with the vocabulary to communicate effectively with you too.
How To Set Family House Rules
If you want to be taken seriously as a parent by your kids you can’t just go chopping and changing your family house rules every other week.
Your house rules need to be as consistent as your child’s bedtime routine, not unpredictable and confusing like a summer full of rainfall when the sun should be shining.
Here are some key rules for setting family house rules for kids and teens.
Involve the whole family
Set out the house rules together as a family. You are less likely to be met with resistance from older children and teenagers if they feel included and an important part of the rule-making process.
Be realistic and fair
You don’t want to replace arguments about doing chores with new arguments about not following the family rules. Identify the key areas of your family life that need better structure and would benefit from rules being put in place and go from there.
Kids are still kids after all and no parent would want or expect their child to be doing all the chores every day and acting like an emotionless robot.
You need to strike a healthy balance that works for you and your family; setting too many rules will make it hard for everyone to keep track and cause your child to feel defeated before they’ve even begun.
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If no screen time before dinner was a house rule last week, you can’t suddenly allow your teen to play their Xbox while their food goes cold on the table this week. You need to be consistent in order to be taken seriously.
If as a parent, you are caught regularly bending the rules, how can you expect your kids to have any respect for the rules themselves? The rules are the rules, you need to be firm and consistent so the children know the rules won’t change if they stomp their feet and scream loud enough.
Praise and reward
Children thrive on praise and it is one of your best tools in encouraging your kids to follow the rules. A ‘well done’ and a big smile from Mommy can mean the world to a child and be all the encouragement they need to follow the rules again.
A sticker reward chart could get your toddler tidying their building blocks away with no fuss in no time and the promise of a slightly later curfew on the weekend may be all the encouragement your teenager needs to wash the dishes or start speaking to you with a bit more kindness and respect.
Of course, children shouldn’t need rewards to follow the rules but if used conservatively in the early stages of life with house rules then rewards aren’t necessarily a bad idea.
It is not just about chores
Family house rules are not just about getting the chores done. Having a clean and tidy home is important but it is not the only thing to consider when setting out your house rules.
How you interact as a family, how you listen and communicate, the things you do to help each other and show you care are all important things to consider when making a list of family rules.
Here are some ideas for family rules that aren’t about doing chores.
- We treat each other how we wish the be treated.
- We respect each others opinions and wishes.
- We use our manners when we talk to each other.
- Mom and Dad have authority in this house and are to be treated with respect.
- We use our voices to communicate our feelings, we do not use violence or aggression.
- Curse words are not allowed to be spoken in this house
Set rules for when house rules are broken
It would be absolutely wonderful if every member of the family followed the rules all of the time but this is as likely to happen as a newborn baby sleeping 12 hours a night from day one.
There are going to be times when your children break the rules. Maybe your four-year-old decides to bite his sister in a battle over a toy tractor or perhaps your teenager has dropped the ‘F’ bomb and slammed a door in your face.
The rules – hopefully only occasionally – are going to be broken and you need to have a procedure in place for when that happens. Use verbal warnings first so your child is aware of what will happen if their behavior continues and again consistency is key.
If you have told your child they will not be allowed ice cream after dinner if they continue to ignore the rules then you can not change your mind when they start crying next to the freezer with an empty bowl.
Also, don’t make flamboyant threats you have no intention of following through with – “If you speak to your brother like that again you will are banned from the TV for the rest of the year!”
Your child knows the threat is empty and they won’t care about following the rules in the future as they know you won’t follow through with the punishment.
Where To Display Family House Rules For My Kids And Teenagers?
Once you have thought of the family rules together and are ready to start implementing them, you need to have the rules somewhere on display for the family to see.
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You could get a pinboard and pin them to it in the hallway, a poster stuck to the freezer with magnets could work or a printout of the rules stuck on the wall in every child’s bedroom is another idea.
It’s up to you where and how you display your family house rules but they need to be in a place where they can easily be seen and read often by everyone in the family.
You don’t want your teen claiming ignorance to no sugar after 6 pm when you find them with a face full of candy just before bedtime. Write the rules up and get them in everyone’s eye line so they can’t be ignored or forgotten.
50+ House Rules For Kids And Teenagers
So, do you feel ready to start setting some good house rules for your children? Your family life will benefit significantly from family rules.
You are teaching your children how to follow instructions, building a sense of pride and achievement, and teaching them the important life lesson that actions have consequences.
If you are unsure what exactly to write on your list of house rules, here are 50 ideas to help you get started.
- Treat each other with kindness
- Keep our hands to ourselves
- Respect each other’s privacy
- Always listen to each others problems
- Always look out for each other
- Settle disagreements with voices, not violence
- Use our manners
- No curse words to be used in this house
- Mom and Dads word is to be respected
- Speak to each other how we wish to be spoken to
- Be honest at all times
- Lying will not be tolerated in this family
- Listen to each others problems and worries whilst being kind and considerate
- Respect each other’s possessions
- Debate is healthy but aggressive arguments are not
- Progress is better than perfect
- Work hard and have a sense of pride in everything we do
- Mean comments are best left unsaid
- Respect each other’s boundaries
- We don’t pressure anyone to do something that is against these rules (or the law)
- If you drop something, pick it up
- Take responsibility for the cleanliness of your own rooms and spaces
- Family areas should be respected and kept tidy by everyone
- Shoes and coats should be put away as soon as we get home
- Don’t leave a mess for someone else to find and clean
- Take responsibility for your own personal hygiene
- Complete chores without argument
- Never lie about finishing chores
- Don’t use dangerous equipment or tools without a parents permission
- Encourage don’t hinder each other to complete set chores
- We wash our hands before every meal
- All meals are to be eaten together as a family
- We say grace before we eat
- Arguments will not be tolerated around the dinner table
- Mom and Dad are always here to listen and help with your problems
- We use our best table manners at mealtimes
- Always ask to be excused from the table
- Many hands make light work, offer to help with cleaning up after dinner
- We accepted our meals with thanks and gratitude and compliments to the chef
- If we finish something we add it to the grocery list
- Tell each other ‘I love you’ every day
- Wish each other a ‘good morning’ and ‘good night’ each day
- Look out for each other when we are sad
- Never intentionally get each other in trouble
- Screen time must be earnt and respected
- We look after our bodies by exercising regularly
- We look after our minds by talking about our problems and practicing self-care.
- Laughter beats arguing every day
- Speak to ourselves like we would a best friend
- We are family and family is everything!!!
If you have teenagers who are struggling to find hobbies you could check out our 75 best hobbies for teenage girls for some inspiration.
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10 BONUS house rules for teenagers
Here are 10 rules specifically for teenagers. The adolescent and young adult years can be extremely challenging for families, we have put this brief list together to give you teenage-specific chores and rules to add to your list of household rules.
- Your curfew is not to be negotiated – privileges will be lost if you are not home on time.
- You must speak to your family with respect at all times.
- Cursing and inappropriate language are not allowed in this house.
- You can speak to Mom and Dad about anything.
- Never forget we are a judgment-free and accepting, family
- If you are in trouble with bullies at school then Mom and Dad will help you
- Screen time rules must be followed and respected
- Chores must be completed – privileges will be lost if you refuse to do them
- You must never lie about where you are going or who you are going to be with
- Even though you are older you are not exempt from any of the house rules
Now we all know that teenagers can be notoriously difficult to get to talk to you, so here are some conversation starters to help you out.
The Final Thought
This list is extensive, we are not suggesting you set a list of 50+ house rules for your family (unless you want to, that is!).
This list of family rules can be tailored to suit your own family circumstances and has hopefully given you lots of inspiration to get started on your own list of chores and rules.
Remember, family life isn’t always going to be perfect but with good house rules in place, you can get closer to that happy family life you long for – good luck!