skip navigation
SAMHSA Brought to you by the US Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse & Mental health Services Administration 
Building Blocks For a Healthy Future Home About Us Links Get Updates Awards
Family Educators Materials
  
Send this page to a friend E-Mail   |   Print this page Print   |   Subscribe RSS Feed
Animal Characters
spacer
spacer Family photosFamily photos

Living With Rules
Rules for Outside the Home

When you set limits, both you and your child will know what to expect from a given situation. Check out the following guidelines.

  1. Be specific: Say exactly what you mean and give details so there is no confusion.
  2. Offer choices: Make sure you believe that any option you offer, and therefore any choice your child makes, is okay.
  3. Be firm: Use clear and definite words when you want to insist on your child doing what you say. This is particularly important when it involves your child’s health and safety.
  4. Accentuate the positive: Choose words that steer clear of no, stop, and don’t. Instead, emphasize what you want (and why), rather than what you don’t want.
  5. Keep yourself out of it: When addressing negative behavior, refer to the house rules rather than the house "ruler."
  6. Explain why the limit is needed: A request or a rule can seem arbitrary if the child doesn’t know why it is in place. Reiterate the rule, then explain the reason behind it.
  7. Suggest an alternative: A child's request might not be unreasonable, just inconvenient. Rather than rejecting the idea, suggest another, more convenient time or place for the activity.
  8. Be consistent: Stick to the house rules — all the time. That way, your child will always know what to expect and what is expected of him/her.
  9. Disapprove of the behavior, not the child: Make sure your child understands that you object to a specific action or activity and NOT her/him.
  10. Control your emotions: You can diffuse a "hot" situation if you are in control of yourself. If necessary, step back to compose yourself before weighing in.
spacer
spacer
spacer Site Map | Contact Us | FAQ | Ask SAMHSA | Privacy Policy | Web Site Policies | FOIA
USA.gov | Plain Language | Viewers & Players
spacer
SAMHSA Logo
Updated on 4/5/2013