It’s hard being a rules mom – always reminding your kids (and husband) to get off their bikes and walk at crosswalks, to keep their elbows off the dinner table and to say thank you after a compliment. The repetition kills you and the reward seems so far off. You grow weary of harping at them and feel like giving up. Even friends make you seem like a tyrant sometimes. You really need my son’s booster seat? It’s just a five-minute drive. Yes, you say, he’s only seven and it’s the law. And I’m driving. Sometimes it feels like you are the only one following the rules.
You weren’t always so boring, but something happened to you. The jaywalking, no-helmet-wearing girl of your youth became a mom. Instinct told you that a set of rules had to be drafted, or chaos was sure to ensue. So when is the right time to start enforcing rules? Begin as soon as your child can understand basic language and start with very simple guidelines for behaviour. Your actions will also teach them what is acceptable in certain situations.
For teens, specific rules and boundaries will give them a sense of security and let them know where they fit in to the bigger picture. Limits help to ground adolescents at a time in their lives when so much is in upheaval. You can raise capable and confident children if you define family rules and values early and follow through on them. Children need to know what is expected of them and that a code of conduct is in place for their family.
Rules protect your children from harm and keep them healthy, but don’t be overly rigid with them. Rules are in place for a reason, but they will also be broken at times. Turn these occasions into learning opportunities for your child by explaining the consequences of their actions and demonstrating how they could have changed the outcome.
Stay strong and don’t give in to outside influences. Children will always compare themselves to their friends and wonder why their family does things differently. They will also try to make you bend the rules to suit their needs. Simply explain that your family’s rules and values are unique and in place for a reason. They must be respected and followed by all family members.
It really does pay to be a rules mom. Because of your hard work and determination, you will slowly notice your children following the rules without having to be reminded. You’ll fill with pride as you watch them say please and thank you on a regular basis, come home on schedule, pick-up their things around the house and much more. And believe it or not, one day they will thank you for the structure and clear guidelines and you will have your ultimate reward.
By Kristen Wint