Incorporate some of these house rules if you want to raise pleasant, well-mannered, happy and responsible children …
- Conversation skills – not interrupting, and being kind and considerate
Children will talk over each other all the time; this is because they are naturally competitive: we have all walked into a room to find the children all speaking at once, each one wants you to get their side of the story first!
It is important to teach them common courtesy as a value, to not talk over each other, to listen carefully, pay attention, wait for the other to finish and then say what they want to say.
It is important from an early age to teach children to be gentle and polite with each other, to learn to always say “Please”, “Excuse me”, Thank you” and “I’m sorry”.
Name-calling is out! Instead, teach them to look for other people’s good qualities, and to say nothing if they have nothing good to say to each other.
- Packing away toys and keeping rooms tidy
Cluttered rooms are a common sight when you have children. Teach them to keep their environment clean, to tidy up after they have finished playing with their toys; to put books, games and toys back in their right place, immediately and not later!
They must learn to clear up after they have finished their homework too. General tidiness teaches them self-respect and love, and to be organised individuals.
- Recognise and respect boundaries and authority
This includes all adults, teachers at school and your visitors. To wait until you have finished or the visitors have left the house and then speak to you, if the matter is not urgent.
- Empathy and compromise are important values to teach our children
Most children have not learnt to stop and consider another’s feelings. As parents, daily clashes between siblings are the order of the day. For example, one child will insist they no longer want to play a particular game and the other still wants to play.
Teach them to look for signs of discomfort and unhappiness in the other child and to stop what they are doing if it is causing distress. Teach them to accommodate each other’s choices, to find an alternative game, for example, that they both like. This teaches them responsiveness and emotional intelligence.
- Share safety tips with your children
Teach them not to speak to strangers (in the streets or online), to not leave the house without your knowledge, to not invite anyone over (even their friends) without your permission, to always check that the doors are locked if alone in the home. To always ask for permission and advice from grown-ups.
- Respect each other’s stuff
While sharing is a great skill to master in life, teach children to respect each other’s stuff and to always ask for permission first if they would like to borrow something. This is a common problem in older children, where one will use another’s gaming gadget for example, or when the little sister decides to wear the older sister’s blouse without her knowledge or permission.
- Set routines
Setting routines for your children, for example an eight-o’clock bedtime during the school term, teaches them time management skills. You could be flexible and allow them an extra hour before bed during school holidays.
- Give them age-appropriate chores
This teaches them to be responsible. For example, helping you with table setting, putting groceries away, hanging out laundry, putting toilet rolls in the bathrooms, picking up litter, taking the garbage out, and so forth.