{The Rules for Family Rules}

Sunday, February 15, 2009

A few months ago, a homeschooling mom of 6 shared with me their family motto that I immediately stole and put to work in our family! Are you ready for it? Here it is:

We will obey,
the first time, the right way
and with a cheerful attitude.

I love it! Now, oftentimes, I just have to call out, "First time, Boo," and he'll stop, turn around and obey. It works so well, but we noticed there were still areas where that rule doesn't apply.

We needed more rules. My kids needed to know what's expected of them. Too often, Mr. Smarty and I would find ourselves beyond frustrated, when simply the kiddos didn't know they were breaking a rule. We hadn't taught them. They only learned the rules in our house when it becomes painfully obvious to us parents that there needed to be a spoken rule. And until late, there haven't been any rules, except the Obey Mantra, and more than enough frustration.

I remembered a few guidelines for creating classroom rules that I had learned when I was going through my teaching certification and sat down with the kids at our IKEA easel (thank you, Christy) and talked through some new rules for our family to function and thrive.

I had our rules in mind, but as we talked, I led the discussion so we arrived at a new rule together.

I limited our rules to 5, and made them broad enough to encompass several trespasses. For example, "Don't hit" is not a rule, but "Respect others" (or be considerate to others) is. Now this rule also includes not making messes for other people to clean up. Other people...I wonder who that could be...

Each rule is stated in the positive form. Rather than having the rule, "Don't lie," I phrased it in the positive: "Tell the truth." This puts the focus on what they CAN do, not everything they can't.

There are two other rules on our list to target areas where we saw growth was needed (how's that for being positive?). These may change as we grow. For now, they are:

"Be thankful" (which I expanded with-Have an Attitude of Gratitude-simply because the kids think it's fun to say). This rule helps with dinnerertime conversations about not complaining about what's on our plates.

and "Work hard." (this was after Belle finished her school work much earlier than usual one day. I asked her why it normally takes her so much longer, and she said, "I'm lazy." She's five and calls herself lazy! While I'm glad she's aware enough to recognize she was being lazy, I don't want that to be part of her identity in any way.

I love that now when I see a behavior that I want corrected, I can site a rule that they are aware of and "helped" form. They already agree with the rule, so there needs to be little discussion about correcting the behavior. It also is helpful for me to be more consistent with correcting and training my kids.

Enter our New and Improved Family Rules (trumpets blowing)! (with simple verses for when there are discussions)

Obey - Eph. 6:1 "Children, obey your parents..."

Respect Others -Mt. 7:12 "Do to others as you would have them do to you..."

Tell the Truth - Prov. 12:22 "The LORD delights in those who are truthful."

Be Thankful -1 Thess. 5:18 "In everything, give thanks..."

Work Hard - Phil. 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength."

13 Creative People Had This To Say:

Leaning on Him said...

These are awesome--thanks for sharing!

Lishak said...

Those are great rules! I love your family pic! So cute. :)

Carey-Life in the Carpool Lane said...

Love the motto and the rules...and thanks for the tips on creating your own family set of rules.
How old are your kids and do they really remember the five rules and how they relate (like no hitting falls under "respect other." I'm wondering what age is a good age to introduce broad rules...

Pajama Mama said...

My kids are 5, 3, and almost 2. The older two really do understand when they do something mean to another person and I ask them what our second rule is. They will tell me, "Be nice." and then I usually ask, "Was that being nice when you did..." I've also posted the rules on the fridge, and we talked about them a lot when I first introduced them.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting these. My husband is on vacation this week and I had been planning to use the time to sit down with our girls and talk over family rules. Thanks for giving me a starting point. Oh, and our kids are exactly the same age - 5, 3 and 2 :)

care said...

Have you read Don't make Me Count To Three by Ginger Plowman? (Obey right away, all the way and with a happy heart) -- loved your post!

tdenney said...

I might have to steal this. :) I love these rules and I've got a little one that likes to test her limits. Thanks for sharing!!

Rachel said...

Love that motto!! And I know our Wal-Mart has at least 5 of those panels left... I know I love them!


christygirl said...

Hey! Love your rules, method for obtaining rules, etc. You are such a wise mommy. If I might add a verse that's worked well with us and become a mantra, Phil. 2:14 says "Do everything without complaining or arguing." In case anyone starts to question said rules at length...

Sharon said...

Those are great! And I love that the kids helped come up with them. I think I need to do that in my family!

Wendy said...

We have four kids ages 5, 3, 2, and 9 months. We try to follow almost all of the same guidelines in our home too! I was a 6th grade teacher before I had kids, and we always had only 5 rules in our classes. We keep our rules simple, straightforward, and in line with the Word for our kids. Great post!

Curdie said...

Very good motto...borrowing it now :)

And thanks for the rules for making rules. I've never heard of this before.

I'm Erin. said...

Hey Kristen,
I've been poking around your blog-- you have a beautiful family :)

I use a motto similar to the one you quote here. I can't remember where I read it, but it's "Obey right away, all the way, and with a joyful heart."

That last part seems to be the hardest one. ;)

Hope you guys had a nice Christmas!