Really, rules can be fun!

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A way to help children feel safe and establish clear expectations and consistency can start with something as simple and foundational as creating household rules. It can be helpful (especially with preschool and early school aged children) to limit the rules to 3-5. These should also be positively stated; for example, “no running inside” would be reframed as “use walking feet inside.”

It is also helpful to have at least one rule that guides children in emotional regulation. For example, “Go to calm down area and take deep breaths when feeling angry.”

Example:
1) Use gentle touches with people and pets.
2) Use kind words with others.
3) Use walking feet inside.
4) Clean up toys when finished playing.
5) Take deep breaths when feeling sad, angry, or scared.

It is also helpful to attach logical consequences to each rule to increase consistency and expectations. For example, if a child hurts a sibling or pet (breaking rule number 1) child must go to calm down area to calm down then will be given opportunity to engage in comforting process (do something to help person or pet feel better). Another example would be if a child refuses to clean up, then those toys are taken away for the rest of the evening.

Lastly, review these rules daily and involve the children in coming up with rules and consequences! This will really help them feel involved and be more likely to comply with the rules. I have children draw pictures for each rule on a big poster board to hang in the house. This helps children be involved and provides visuals for children who are not yet able to read the rules. Remember, this can be fun!! Break out the glitter, stickers, etc. and after you make the poster, have your child help figure out where to hang the rules. Most importantly, provide LOTS OF PRAISE for following the rules!

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