Guidelines for Kids

How to Provide Clear Guidelines for Your Kids

Image of Set guidelines for your kids - Create Happy KidsThis is the 2nd article in a 6 part series on how to create good decision makers in our kids.

In article #1, we talked about Creating Choices, in this article we’ll discuss:

Providing Clear Guidelines to Promote Good Decisions

Many young children who make poor decisions do so because they weren’t sure about the rules, or were responding to the chaos around them.

The rules and choices might be clear to you, but you can’t assume your child understands these choices clearly.

The Importance of Clear Guidelines

Based on my experience, when kids were asked, “Why did you make a poor choice?”, the main reasons included:

  • “I didn’t know it wasn’t okay.”
  • “I was confused.”
  • “I thought I was doing the right thing.”
  • “I didn’t think it was a big deal.”

Image of Without clear guidelines a kid can get confused - Create Happy KidsDo any of those sound familiar to you?

What these statements have in common is that in each, the child was not clear about: what to expect, the rules of conduct, or what was expected.

3 Essential Steps in Providing Clear Guidelines

Add structure:

Adding or increasing structure is essential in giving the child a sense of predictability in his environment. This predictability is important because being able to predict some events or expectations helps children trust their environment.

The value of predictability is not just true for kids. As adults, we thrive and function better when we feel we can trust our environment, our workplace, home, relationships, etc. Simply put, if your child feels there’s structure and a sense of order in his home and daily schedule, then he can predict (to some degree) what to expect.

Structure brings less chaos, fewer surprises and an increased sense of security to your child. Children as young as six months old can learn to trust the order in their immediate environment. A child who feels secure and can trust his environment is a happier child.

Be Clear About Rules:

Explain what you expect from your kids. Take a moment and go over the rules and maybe put some of the most important ones in writing. I’m not talking about a long, legal document.

I remember one parent who put the rules about how to use the washing machine safely in a simple list format on the wall of the laundry room. He prevented many confusions and mistakes by doing that.

Reviewing the rules and expectations with you kids can also be especially important when there is a change in your child’s environment or routine.

Create Routines:

Creating routines builds the same mindset as does increasing structure for your child. As a matter of fact, one way you can increase structure in your child’s life is to create a sense of routine.

Image of Clear guidelines help create good routines - Create Happy KidsI’m sure many of you have done this successfully. A common example is having a bedtime routine. Most parents create a routine in some way to help their children get to bed and sleep every night. This routine usually starts with after-dinner activities, and ends with the child in bed, falling asleep.

The specifics of a bedtime routine may different from family to family; however the function, goal and basic steps of the bedtime routine mostly remain the same in every home, even across many cultures.

3 Important Points About Routines:

Be consistent – Note your child’s perspective – Provide clarification

One thing you can do to help ensure that small changes to your child’s routine don’t send a wrong message is to be clear about the rules. Good explanations will help your child be less confused and more clear about his responsibilities despite any changes to routine.

In article #3 we will discuss – Rewarding Good Decision Making

In article #4 we will discuss – Kids Decisions

In article #5 we will discuss How to Behave When Your Children are Behaving

This is an excerpt from my book “Create Happy Kids”. You can order your copy by clicking on the “Buy Now” button on the right.

You can hire Dr. Sherkat for your next parenting workshop, conference or parenting event.



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