How do I set house rules for my teenager?

Pushing against boundaries is a normal part of growing up. Giving your teenager limits helps them learn to take responsibility for their actions.

House rules benefit the whole family, because then everyone knows what’s expected of them. They work best when everyone gets involved.

Teenagers chatting to each other

Tips

  • Let your teenager help pick the house rules, as well as the consequences for breaking them. Do it as a family and make sure everyone gets a say.
  • Write or draw the rules on a large piece of paper. Put this where everyone can see it.
  • Be consistent: stick to the agreed consequence for breaking the rule every time.
  • Use positive reinforcement. Remind your children of their qualities and strengths, and that you love them for who they are.
  • Your child will look to you to learn how to behave, so stick to the rules yourself.
  • Make it rewarding. For instance, you could plan a family treat at the end of the week to celebrate everyone’s efforts.

Picking rules and consequences

Good rules are those that benefit everyone, or that help your child stay safe and learn useful skills. For example:

  • Make your bed everyday
  • Let someone know if you’ll be home late
  • Don’t leave shoes on the stairs.

The rules should apply to everyone, but you can tailor the consequences by age if you need to. For instance, swap household chores for no screen time for younger children. Consequences can include things like:

  • No computer games for a day
  • Doing jobs around the house or in the garden.

Letting your children pick the consequences makes sticking to the rules more meaningful.

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