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A rule is an instruction you give to your kids to make family life as pleasant as possible for everybody. It’s the basis of effective discipline and a winning condition for peace in the family.

For children to feel calm, confident and safe, they need rules… even when they object to them! One thing is sure: even if you apply all the advice of the greatest experts in the world, your child won’t always follow all your rules. You’ll have to repeat them over and over again That’s normal.

Want to increase the chances that your child will respect your rules? Make sure your rules adhere to the 5 Cs: they should be clear, concrete, consistent, coherent, and involve consequences.

  1. Clear: you should only have a few rules and they should be easy for children to understand, based on their age.
    Limit yourself to a total of 2 or 3 rules for younger children.
  2. Concrete : a good tip is to describe the expected behaviour.
    Instead of saying, « Stop yelling, » say « Talk softly. »
  3. Consistent : always apply a rule the same way, regardless of your mood, how tired you are, or the context. This is what being consistent means!
    You usually don’t let your child eat in front of the TV, but you’ve had a bad day and need to relax? Why not do something out of the ordinary and eat as a family in front of the TV? Explain to your child that this is a special occasion. He or she will understand that it’s an exception.
  4. Coherent : be a good role model. Growing up, children quickly detect when their parents’ behaviour is incoherent. « Do as I say and not as I do » is an example of incoherence.
    Want your child to put her coat and shoes away? Don’t leave your own things lying around when you get home.
  5. Consequences : there should be a logical relationship between an undesirable behaviour and its consequence.
    Your child refuses to get dressed and throws a tantrum? A consequence could be to allow him less time to play his favourite game. Eventually, he or she will come to understand that tantrums lead to the same consequence: less time for the activities he likes.

Interested in learning more about discipline? Consult the specific modules corresponding to your child’s age category:

Easy to say but not always easy to do? A little help could be useful?
Find out about the Triple P activities that are offered near you.


Sources

Germain Duclos et Martin Duclos (2005). Responsabiliser son enfant. Les Éditions du CHU Sainte-Justine.