Rules and Consequences
• Draw clear lines between what is allowed and what isn’t allowed
Rules are useful for school work, chores, behavior at home, and outside the
home. Make clear rules and also be clear about what will happen if they are
broken. Consequences should take into account your child’s age an
personality and the seriousness of the situation. Consequences should also
make sense. For example, if you say homework must be done before going out
to play, a consequence of breaking this rule is no more outside play that
day. Don’t forget to offer rewards or extra privileges for following the
rules. Change your rules as your child gets older or situations change.
There are two benefits that come from allowing your child to suggest and
comment on family rules. First, the chances are better that your child will
follow the rules. Second, it shows that you respect your child’s opinions.
This builds a stronger relationship between the two of you and this can make
your child more willing to abide by you rules. Use your discussions about
rules to teach your child the consequences of decisions
If your child breaks the rules, enforce the consequence you have set.
Otherwise, your child will come to believe that your rules are not that
important and that it is okay to break them. Also, if you sometimes do not
follow through, your child will tend to test other rules to see if they can
be broken without consequence, too. Do not make changes to the rules based
on your mood or in reaction to an upsetting incident. If you need to change
the rules or consequences, talk to your child about it before you make the
changes. If you are fair, your child will see that and be more likely to
respect the rules.
Tell your child that underage alcohol use is not acceptable and explain why.
Talk about your family values and how underage alcohol use just does not fit
into those values. Also talk about the special dangers of alcohol to the
growing body. Explain to your child that the rule is about protection, not
control. Let them know that you will support them in every way to resist any
pressure to drink alcohol.
Use every opportunity you get to praise and reward your child for following
the rules. This will help your child develop self-confidence and trust in
his or her own judgment. It also makes them want to continue to follow the
Some risky behavior, like underage alcohol use, is un-healthy. Other risks
are healthy, such as trying out for a sports team or going up to up to meet
a new student at school.
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