It's back to school time, and the developmental stage that spans 6-12 years old encompasses most children in elementary school. One of the developmental jobs at this age it to learn about the rules that help us live with others. Parents, you can help by deciding what is nonnegotiable and what is negotiable in your house, and talking about what is nonnegotiable and negotiable in other places your child frequents, such as school, church, sports, clubs, grandma's house, etc.
Nonnegotiable rules are rules you have about safety, morals, health, etc. Negotiable rules are about other things like money, free time, activities, etc. Rules that are nonnegotiable help children learn limits. Rules that are negotiable help them learn about thinking and problem-solving. Both are important life skills. As your child grows older and more competent and mature, the number of nonnegotiable rules you have is likely to decrease, while the negotiable ones increase.
When helping your child learn about rules, here are some tips* for working with children in this age range:
- Teach the reasons behind the rules.
- Provide and follow through with three basic rules that all other rules fall under:
With your body and your words:
- Respect yourself (Don't hurt yourself)
- Respect others (Don't hurt others.)
- Respect property (Don't hurt property.)
- Teach and consistently reinforce rules that are specific to the functioning of the family in which the child lives.
- Provide opportunities to practice the skills involved in a variety of family household chores.
- Offer opportunities to learn that there are different rules outside the family and the child is responsible for respectfully following those rules.
- Assure that the child is appropriately discomforted when a rule is broken.
- Monitor media and all screen time exposure (more on this in the next issue!).
- Teach child how to recognize and what to do in unsafe situations according to the circumstances.
* This information is from the "How Much Is Enough?" curriculum. Check out Upcoming Events for the opportunity to meet with other parents and caregivers to learn more about this and other concepts!