Top 10 Family Rules with Dr. Robyn Silverman

Family rules. Something every family needs but likely has not formally discussed or written down. Think about it– does your family have known, documented family rules?

Rules make the household “work.” They keep things safe and fair for everyone. With rules, kids know what is to be expected and can rise to the occasion. Of course, without known rules, it’s very hard to enforce them, use them for guidance or for each family member to know when they’ve crossed the line.

As I’m getting ready to release my very first Family Action Blueprint (forthcoming) package that centers on family rule development and discussion, I certainly have tons of ideas!

Below is an example of 10 rules to get you thinking of what you’d like to post on your fridge and discuss in your family meeting. However, I encourage you to ask your children to contribute to the family rules as I’ve continued to learn that when working with young people; if you say it, it can be ignored or challenged, if they say it, it becomes the gospel truth.

You can ask directly;

What family rules (do’s and dont’s) do YOU think we should follow in our house?

You can prompt;

How do you think we can show respect for other people’s property or other people’s feelings?

You can elicit response to your contribution;

What do you think about “cleaning up your own mess?”

Ensure that everyone is heard. Write down the brainstorm on a piece of paper and then compile them into 5-10 family rules that are clear, easy to follow, and displayed publicly.

Here is a sample of the 10 family rules that you can bring to the table and incorporate into the structure of the Family Action Blueprint: Rules Edition– but of course, your top 10 rules should be customized to your home and family!

Example: Top 10 Rules To Post on Your Fridge 

(1) Show respect to yourself and others: The Golden Rule applies first and foremost in our family. For example; no put downs, yelling, hitting. kicking, pinching, name-calling. This applies to what you say to others and what you say to yourself in the mirror! Say please, thank you, sorry, you’re welcome, and excuse me when warranted.

(2) Choose honesty and trustworthiness: Integrity is valued in our family. For example; tell the truth, don’t omit details to attempt to avoid consequences, mean what you say and say what you mean, and follow through with promises.

(3) Be responsible, dependable and accountable (RAD): When you make a mistake, own up, apologize, and ask how you can make it better. Then take action to correct your mistake and improve upon the situation. If you need help fixing a situation, ask a parent (or trusted caretaker).

(4) Clean up your own mess: If you take it out, you put it back.

(5) Demonstrate respect for other people’s property: Knock before entering, ask permission before you use something, put it back better than you found it. If you break it, rip it, or mess it up, replace it or fix it.

(6) Refrain from arguing or talking back to your parents in a disrespectful way: Voice your opinion but respect the final decision made by your parents who make decisions based on what is best for the family, you and your well-being.

(7) Ask permission before you leave the home, school or your friend’s home: First, ask your parents if you can go. Be sure to tell parents or whoever is in charge who you will be with, where you are going, how you can be contacted, and when you will be home. Then do what you said you would do!

(8) Do what your parents ask you to do the first time they request it: Stalling, ignoring, tantruming, complaining, rolling eyes and grunting are unacceptable responses. (This shows respect)

(9) Show gratitude: We are a blessed family. Take time each day to say thank you for what you have, the people in your life, and the opportunities provided to you (you can brainstorm ways to do this and use the upcoming Family Action Blueprint on Gratitude!).

(10) Actively seek out ways to be kind and helpful to others: You do not need to wait to be invited to help. We live in a home together, therefore we all need to pitch in! We are all encouraged to provide unprompted, sincere praise for someone else or a show of affection to ensure that every family member feels valued and loved.

A follow-up meeting can be designed around consequences of breaking the family rules and rewards for those who go above and beyond without prompting. You may want to incorporate sticker charts or vision boards depending on what works best for your children.

Good luck! I can’t wait to hear your family rules and how you are making them work for your family.