Imposing Rules on Children: Is There a Better Way?

Editor’s Pick. Written by Sue Elvis.

Some people might say that family rules are essential because they ensure a child knows what is right, and avoids what is wrong, and so he will act appropriately. If the rules are broken, then the child will have to face the consequences, which might include punishment.

“My children know what the rules are. They know the consequences of breaking them. It’s not always easy but I have to be consistent and follow through with punishments, so I can teach them what is right and what is wrong.”

But do rules really teach children right from wrong? Or do they teach children how to avoid punishment? Could it be that the motivation to behave a certain way is coming from outside a child, and not from within? Maybe we impose rules on our children because we don’t trust our children to behave in a way we feel is appropriate, without us controlling their actions. Perhaps we think rules are the only way. But…

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