Teaching children right from wrong isn’t easy. But setting and using effective rules helps them understand what behaviors you expect from them.

Try these tips:

  1. Tell your child why a rule needs to be set. He’ll be more likely to follow it. Example: “Wash your hands after you play outside. If you don’t there might be germs on your hands that could make you sick.”
  2. Criticize the behavior, not the child. You may be tempted to say, “You are the messiest kid I’ve ever seen. I can’t believe you did this.” Instead, try, “Jimmy, I’m upset that there’s mud all over the floor. Please get the mop and clean up the mess.”
  3. Once a rule is set, avoid applying consequences inconsistently. For example, when your child jumps on the bed, you respond by giving him a time-out one day and ignoring the behavior the next. The result: Your youngster won’t understand that broken rules have consequences.

Note: Setting clear rules will help your child feel more secure and encourage self-discipline over time.

Diane Hurst

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