The toddler/kid years are chaotic. They’re messy + loud. BUT we have hacks that can calm the chaos in our daily lives. One of them? Family ground rules.
When we repeat these “ground rules” often, two important things happen:
1. We shape their inner voice: these “ground rules” start to become part of who they are. Each time we repeat these ground rules, our kid is one step closer to becoming a kind, respectful, resilient person.
2. When things do go off track – like, your toddler hits their brother in the face – you’ll have your clear family rules to draw back on and help you hold boundaries.
What ground rules should we start with? For toddlers, we want to stick to things that we repeat often and are important at this age. Here are a few ground rules to practice daily:
– We are kind, even when we don’t agree
Different opinions/perspectives are part of life! A great way to teach this is to model – have a different opinion with your partner or a friend and show how you can have differences yet be kind/respectful.
– We can feel angry AND be safe at the same time
All feelings are OK, certain behaviors are NOT ok. Feeling angry? Perfectly healthy. Hitting when angry? Not ok.
-Body Boundaries – We stop rough play/touching when someone says “stop”
Make it a rule that when someone says “stop” you put your hands up and stop touching them. This goes both ways, so you want to teach your toddler to put their hands up when someone says “stop,” but also teach them that when someone is playing too rough/tickling and they don’t want to? Say “stop!”
Crucial: Follow these guidelines with your toddler! When you’re tickling, etc., if your toddler says “stop,” stop. Put your hands up, and make it known that you – and others – listen to their no!
Family Ground rules are helpful for children to understand what the limits are and what behavior is expected. They are also helpful for adults to prevent arguments with their child and address concerns appropriately in the family. Effective ground rules can promote better communication, autonomy and discipline. However, ground rules are only effective when we make them realistic, achievable rules, stick to them, and give reasonable consequences when the rules are not followed.
Coach Benjamin Mizrahi. Educator. Learning Specialist. Family Coach. Father. Husband.
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