Setting rules with children is important but how to we begin this process? Parenting is a lot of work, and there are many tools and resources to help you. However, if you want to be an effective parent, it’s important that you establish clear rules and limits… with your children’s input! Because, after all, children are more likely to follow our direction and guidance if they are involved in the process of making the rules for the household. 

This article will explain why it’s important to create rules with children. It will also demonstrate how to involve children in this process.


They never fail to surprise me. 

While I think I have them figured out, they do something that sends me reeling. 

For instance, I recently decided to do an “official” cooking program with my children. While they’ve done a lot of cooking with me, I want them to learn to cook various meals all by themselves.

Before embarking on this journey, I thought I would sit them down and ask them what rules we should have for our cooking class. 

Their responses were hilarious… and ridiculous.

Rule #1 – Don’t burn down the house.

(LOL – I think that would be a given.)

Rule #2 – Don’t cut off your fingers.


Rule #3 – Knives are only to be used for cutting.

(What else could they be used for? Actually, don’t answer that.)

Rule #4 – Only lick your fingers if you’re not cooking with eggs.

(Gross. I’m beginning to think cooking with them is not a good idea. LOL)

I’ll stop here because this went on and on until they started to come up with practical, tangible, rules. 


The reason why I’ve shared this story with you, is children NEED to be part of the rule making process. And while their rules may be slightly ridiculous (and hilarious) they thrive on opportunities to have some control over their environment. 

Control for children is important. Giving children control helps them feel less anxious. They know what to expect and the fact that you’ve included them in the rule setting process, helps them feel valued. 

In addition, by participating in the rule-making / limit-setting process, your children are more likely to follow the rules and stay within the limits. This is because:

  • they are invested in the rules (after all, they helped think of them)
  • your children are more likely to remember the rules / limits because they were involved in the process of setting them


If you’re wondering how to involve your children in the rule making process, here are a few suggestions.

1 – Host a family meeting. Set a time and day that the family can gather to discuss the rules.

It’s important to hang up a meeting agenda beforehand, so that everyone knows that rules and limits will be a topic at this meeting. By doing this, your children can start thinking about how they want to approach this process.

2 – At the meeting, introduce the topic (what activity are you creating guidelines and limits for)? For instance if you’re going on a trip, what will be the hotel rules? Or if you’re planning a play date, what are the limits for that event?

3 – Document all of their ideas on a big piece of paper. It’s important that EVERY contribution is written down. Every child needs to feel respected, heard, and valued. 

4 – After all the ideas have been written down, involve your children in the process of narrowing down the list.Sometimes several rules can be combined into one, so facilitate that process of grouping these guidelines as well. For example, with our cooking rules, we could combine:

  • don’t cut off your fingers
  • knives are only to be used for cutting

Our guideline might be to always be safe when using a knife.

5 – Encourage your children to vote on the top 3-5 rules. We don’t like long lists of rules, 3-5 MAX ensure that these guidelines will be remembered more easily.

6 – Post the finalized set of rules in a visible spot somewhere in your home. Want to make it fancy? You could post them on a rustic chalkboard or on a letterboard.

So there you have it… that’s how we set rules and limits in our household. 

Do you set rules with your children too? What does your process look like? Comment below and share with me!



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Jennifer Bly
Jennifer Bly
Author of My Kitchen, My Classroom: An Introduction to Homeschool and creator of The Deliberate Mom. Jennifer writes about parenting, homeschooling, her faith, and life with her husband and two girls. Jennifer has a Bachelor of Applied Human Service Administration Degree with a specialization in Early Learning in Child Care.

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