New year, renewed rules

Every parent has those days when it feels like NOBODY is listening. If you have to tell your child to clean their room one more time, you think you might really lose your mind.

The New Year is the perfect time to regain control! Start fresh and enact, enforce and maintain a new set of rules in your house. It could be the best New Year’s resolution you’ve ever made. Here are some guidelines and suggestions to stick to:

Rules rule

Everyone needs rules and structure.

“Rules let children know what to expect, keep children healthy, help family members get along better and communicate our values to children,” says Karen Jacobson, co-founder of Parenting Perspectives, a Chicago parent coaching business. 

“When parents are consistent and set rules effectively, there is greater cooperation and less misbehavior.”

Problems like getting out of the door in the morning often indicates there are no rules or the rules are unclear, says Lauren Bondy, Jacobson’s co-founder in Parenting Perspectives. Just make sure you and your partner get on the same page about the rules. 

Chart it up

Start using a chart to add structure to help kids develop positive habits, says Beth Miller, a certified parent coach. 

“For many kids, a visual chart helps remind them of chores and the act of checking them off can help reinforce the habit.”

Ditch the rewards

Rewards and reward charts cause kids to focus on the reward rather than doing what is right, expected or moral. 

“We want children to be intrinsically motivated, so rewarding them for doing what is expected actually interferes with that goal and can even be harmful,” Jacobson says. 

“When children help out, are kind, respectful or do tasks independently, they naturally feel good and make additional reward unnecessary.”Say yes to chores

“All children should have chores or jobs,” Bondy insists. “Chores teach children that contributing to the well-being of the family is important. They learn that the family works best when everyone contributes and feels valuable. The best way to raise responsible children is to give them responsibilities.”

Even young children can water plants, turn out lights, bring in mail or feed the pet. “Having chores protects children from a sense of entitlement,” Bondy says.

Skip doling out cash for chores.

Be positive

Miller says kids will stick to rules if they have a hand in creating them.

Make sure the rules are positive, focusing “on the ‘do’ behavior rather than a ‘don’t’ message,” Miller says. “… I encourage parents to use their energy and attention to focus on encouraging positive behaviors rather than planning punishments.”

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