Reasonable Rules

A Great Idea …

“Changing rules when appropriate shows your child that your rules are grounded in sense, not just based on who’s in charge. This is crucial, because believing that rules are fair and sensible is what gets children to comply with what parents want.” (Psychologist Laurence Steinberg, in his book The 10 Basic Principles of Good Parenting p.78)

In Other Words …

Parents are often caught on the horns of a dilemma. We don’t want to cave in, but we don’t want to be unreasonable. The key to settling this dilemma is for the parent to judge whether the original rule was reasonable. We should not surrender a rule just because a child begs, but when we make a rule or pronounce a punishment in haste and later realize our mistake, it is appropriate to modify our stand.

How This Applies to You …

Examine the rules in your home. Do they make sense? If so, stand by them. Be sure that your children learn that rules matter, but when you have made a dumb rule, don’t be afraid to amend it.

To Find Out More …

For an excellent (and free!) program on parenting, see The Parenting Journey at and if your children are younger than six, check out See the World Through My Eyes.

For more in depth reading on parenting, we recommend The 10 Basic Principles of Good Parenting by Laurence Steinberg or Soft-spoken Parenting by H. Wallace Goddard.

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