How do I set house rules for my teenager?

Pushing against boundaries is part of growing up. You can give your teenager limits to help them learn to take responsibility for their actions.

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

Creating house rules

Let your teenager help pick the house rules, as well as the consequences for breaking them. Do this 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 that you love them for who they are.
  • Stick to the rules yourself (your child will look to you to learn how to behave).
  • Make it rewarding – plans family treats 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. 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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This advice was written by our experienced Parent Talk coaches. Parent Talk is a free online service for parents and carers, provided by the charity Action for Children. For more advice, message our parenting coaches with our online chat.

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