Children Need Rules and Structure

Children Need Rules and Structure
Rules play an important part in teaching your kids good behavior.

There is a reality-type show on television titled, "Super Nanny" Nanny Jo arrives to take over the house full of unruly and disruptive children. Even when there is only one child the house feels full, what with the child ruling and overruling the parents every move. Now think back to the television show from the early 90's, a comedy titled "The Nanny.” Pretty Fran Drescher with her chalk on board voice and sassy attitude. Two completely different shows with the same premise, children need rules and structure. Perhaps we enjoy watching programs like these because we relish the fact we are not the only folks to have a problem with our children. Both programs show how rules and structure can lead to happier and more secure children. If a child has been allowed to “rule the roost”, he or she may not be aware that every child needs, and even wants limits and boundaries.

Promoting good behavior in children may mean taking a holistic rather than autocratic approach to rule-making. When it comes to ruling over the kids, use the KISS (keep it solid and simple) method.

1. Keep the rules clear. Saying "Tommy, you know you should not be watching television at 8 p.m." Does not mean much. Sure little Tommy knows it, because you have said it before, but may have let him continue to watch television. When you say "Tommy, you cannot watch TV after 8 p.m., turn it off now." There is no doubt what you mean.

2. Keep a routine. Have a routine or schedule that includes times for homework, TV, school, playtime, baths, meals, etc. Having and following a schedule may keep arguments and nagging to a minimum.

3. State directions clearly. Say what you mean, "It is time for you to do your homework." Asking "Don’t you have homework to do?" is not a directive from you, it is a question that begs a shrug.

4. Be prepared to enforce your directions. Don’t give a direction if you are not ready to enforce it. If you allow yourself to flop back and forth like a fish out of water, your directions won’t mean a thing. Children are smart and they catch on fast that mommy or daddy may say “no” but if you ask or whine long enough, that “no” will soon change to a begrudging, “Well, alright but…."

5. Praise your child often. When you see a child doing something right, make sure you praise her or him on the spot. Parents are often quick to yell at their children when they catch them doing something they should not be doing, it seems fair to praise them when you catch them doing something right.

6. Be a good role model for your child. What your child sees you do is much more effective than doing what you say.

7. Remember that rules and structure can mean a more harmonious household. While some of the situations on the television show, “Super Nanny” are extreme, they do exist. And more times than not, the childs behavior has been enabled by one or both parents.

Visit PBS's A Place of Our Own If you have a child care provider who is special and loved by your children, submit her or his name to A Place of Our Own to be Child Care Provider of the Week.

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