One of the first things that your child learns is trust. Think about how that trust is established, they have needs and you meet those needs. Simple really. Here’s an example; your baby is hungry (they have a need) and so you feed your baby (you meet their need). Our job as parents is to make deposits into their trust banks so they will learn how to trust.
But just as trust can be built, trust can also be eroded. I believe that one of the ways to erode that trust is teaching your child that rules matter more to you than they do. I know that our default is obey right away with a good attitude, but does everything have to be on that level?
Kayla recently asked me if we have too many rules at our house. And it’s a great question because Jesus said there were only two rules. That’s right “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.” All of the law and the prophets hang on these.
Asking a 5-year-old to remember 100 rules is asking a 5-year-old to fail. That one’s on us. We are training that child poorly. We are teaching them to fail.
So we had to find a better way. We had to look at what was important, what did we want to reinforce? What did we want to correct? We had to ask ourselves if this issue was a hill worth dying on.
So we have four big rules that we use:
- Be respectful – This covers so much of what needs to be covered when it comes to rules in our family. It is the meta-principle of discipline in our home. We use kind words and we don’t yell. We keep our hands to ourselves. We don’t leave our trash in the car and so on. We teach our kids to be respectful with their words, deeds and attitudes. There are so many behaviors that can be redirected with a simple, “was that respectful?” Obeying us parents is a way to show us respect.
- Don’t do anything that can hurt you or someone else – Kids need to learn to have respect for others and themselves. Don’t run it the house, don’t hit your sibling, don’t throw that toy, don’t run up/down the stairs, etc. We emphasize this principle because the children need to understand that they and the other kids are precious to the Lord and it is not OK to hurt someone special to God.
- Don’t break it or take it if it doesn’t belong to you – We want our kids to know that a way to respect other people is to respect their things. They can’t have it if it is not theirs. They can’t break it if it is not theirs. We show mom respect by not leaving our trash in the car and so on.
- Don’t come into the kitchen without asking – This one is the most practical and least flexible. The kids are little and I am 6’5”. I can’t see them when they are right behind me so for their safety they can’t enter the kitchen unannounced if we are cooking.
Have you ever taken inventory of all the rules you have at home? Do you have too many?