Our kids are not perfect at following our family household rules, but they know the rules and can tell you all of them. My husband and I came up with a way of teaching our kids the most important things we want them to remember and do each day, and it has been a hit!
When Carter started Kindergarten, two years ago, they had a traffic light behavior system: green for good, yellow for warning, and red for misbehaving. His first couple of weeks he got a few yellows and one (gasp) red. That’s when we instituted the rule of “no green, no screen.”
Well, the rhyme was easy to remember, the kids would repeat it, and it was a quick reminder to be good. All we had to say was, “no green, no screen!” The rest of Kindergarten was smooth sailing.
We decided to come up with some other catchy sayings that the kids could easily remember. That first year we also instituted these rules:
“You eat it, you clean it.” – They were responsible for picking up after their meals and snacks.
“Homework first.” – Mom and Dad are allowed to require homework to be done before another activity.
“Food in, toys out.” – Food stays in the kitchen, toys don’t go in the kitchen.
“Fight and whine, do your time.” – Fight with your siblings or whine about being asked to help out = a time out.
Our family motto that year was “Everything is Awesome.” Yeah, the LEGO Movie was big then.
Before we knew it, our kids were talking about the rules, reciting the rules, and helping one another remember the rules! They loved our catchy sayings, and it really helped them to remember and follow the rules.
For school year 2015-2016, we have a new set of Tenney Family rules, and the kids got really excited about them when they saw this poster I made:
Tenney Family Household Rules
Carter and Vanessa loved reading through the new rules, so much so that Carter insisted I print out a copy right away, and before I knew it, he had used packing tape to tape it up to his wall!
The first rule is our family motto for this year: “Get along and get it done!” Our kids have a bickering problem, so we want to emphasize that it’s important to get along with your siblings and finish the job at hand.
Here are the rest of our family rules for this year:
“Listen first time” – Not fourth or fifth!
“School before screen” – This means no screen in the morning, and no screen until homework is finished.
I kept “You eat it, you clean it” and “food in, toys out” because those are important to me and have become a problem again lately.
“In your seat, while you eat” – They are supposed to stay at the table until they are finished eating, instead of getting up to do something else or wandering around. Also my kids have a habit of half-sitting/half-standing at their chairs, which drives me bonkers! Sit down, children!
“Clean rooms are cool.” – Because they are.
Our trick is simple- just decide which of your family household rules are the most important (it’s best to keep to 4-6 rules, so kids can remember them all), and then use a cute saying, rhyme, or alliteration to represent the rule.
Say the rules often, and encourage your kids to do the same. Don’t forget that providing structure and having expectations not only improves behavior, but it helps kids to feel secure and loved!