Involve Children in Making Rules and Consequences

I remember the time I asked my 13 year old what a suitable consequence would be after he had abused his computer privileges.

“Take it away for two weeks?”

I just about laughed. “Really, you think that would be fair?”

“No, I just thought that that’s what you’d probably say, or worse!”

He really thinks I’m a mean Mom.

Self-Made Boundaries

As your child grows, you can introduce this tool wisely to help your kids learn how to set boundaries for themselves. In our house, as you can tell, most of our issues involve technology. Even though we as parents have told our children multiple times that technology needs to be enjoyed in moderation and play should come after work, our oldest two boys continue to push the rules.

One time, I made them write out the rules and consequences we had discussed together. We had each compromised. The good news? We’ve had fewer arguments about the rules.

My children know the rules and they are aware of the consequences. So when those consequences are enforced, they realize they have brought it upon themselves. They’re still not happy about it, but they were part of the process and thus accept it far easier than if it was simply imposed from my ivory tower.

Recipe for Tool #11 :


  • A child and parent
  • Paper and pen to write with
  • Willing to negotiate for fair rules
  • Lots of communication and patience
  • No CENSORING to start

Step 1 – Brainstorm

Begin using this tool on a small scale. Brainstorm choices you can offer your child starting from a young age. If they show responsibility in following the rules, thoughtfully choose other areas you are willing to let them negotiate.

Take the negotiation seriously. Brushing off an idea from a child when you are in the brainstorming stage will kill the whole process as they won’t feel heard.

Step 2 – Explain

Giving your child a simple explanation as to why we need to do certain things helps them learn make wise decisions. For example, “If you do your homework before you play, you’ll be able to enjoy your playtime so much more!”

Or, “You need lots of sleep because you’re growing. Adults aren’t growing. That’s why you should go to bed earlier than us. Sleep will help you stay awake in school and help you fight off illness.”

Remember emotion trumps logic every time. The formula is simple, If you (task), then you will feel (emotion).

Step 3 – Appropriate Praise

Use SMART Praises when they follow their rules and accept the predetermined consequences. Your positive reinforcement as your children implement their rules will go a long way to help them learn about making wise decisions for themselves.

Step 4 – Be an Example

Kids notice everything we do. If we’re playing before we’re working, you won’t be too successful in teaching them to do their work before they play.

Or if we’re staying up too late and they see us yawning or complaining about being tired all the time, they’ll wonder why we don’t go to bed earlier.

Life Lessons

Teaching children how to make rules they can live with goes beyond reinforcing positive behaviour. It also teaches them how to communicate and make compromises. They learn how to see things through and they learn how to solve problems.

Admittedly, at times I do feel that it’s easier to negotiate with my energetic dogs as to how many times a day we can go out to play. But that is the beauty of parenting, watching your children blossom into an independent individual capable of directing their own lives.

No one ever said it was easy 🙂


HB is a roller coaster father, one minute he is ecstatic about his children, the next he wonders if life will ever get any better. A long standing member of the 'I yell at my kids' club, he writes with passion and an analytical mind. Dissecting and separating the nuanced strategies that make a good parent great. He experiments with parenting techniques on his 3 year old so you don't have to.

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