The atmosphere of your home is so important. You as a parent need peace in order to plan ahead, carry out tasks, and enjoy your children. And children need peace in order to accomplish their goals as well. Although they sometimes seem to get in trouble just because they need attention, most of the time they want to be able to cooperate with their siblings, join in family activities and complete projects they have started.
How is a peaceful atmosphere achieved? In a similar way that we have peace between nations – we agree to abide by rules. Rules give us a sense of security, control, boundaries, and peace.
Setting workable rules is a skill every parent needs to practice. Part of the skill is developed by trial and error. When parents have only a few rules, children over step the boundaries that should have been clear, resulting in confusion and frustration. If there are too many rules, children may naturally feel rebellious and parents may find they are spending too much time correcting their children, and not enjoying peace. Finding the number of rules that will work for your family is important.
Also, the kind of rules that you set is important. There are some rules that should be nonnegotiable, and rigidly enforced. These specific rules might be “Never play with matches.” Or, “No playing in the street.” These rules have to do with safety and security, and they are based on your family’s culture, neighbors, physical surroundings.
In order to save your precious time and energy, these rules should be discussed and agreed upon at a family meeting. If they are made clear, then parents can expect obedience, and the child will not be rebellious or confused when discipline needs to be administered. But what about those grey areas? When your children are chasing each other in the house, but nothing is broken yet? When does the parent step in?
Next week we will tackle the issue of making flexible rules.