Children rules: what are they for?

February 14, 2024

Rules are the basis of education and are needed to live well with oneself and others. Creating fair and correct children rules is the first step in an optimal education and a fundamental basis for young children to understand the concept of respecting both other people and objects that do not belong to them.

In addition to this, rules are necessary to make sure that a child has clear reference points that will enable him to have a balanced, peaceful, and, above all, healthy life.

A child who lives in the total absence of rules will not see his parents as his point of reference and will not feel peaceful with others; otherwise, he will close himself off to dialogue and will be easily influenced by the behaviors – even wrong behaviors – of others.

How to teach children rules?

Teaching children respect for rules may not seem like a simple matter, but in fact, it is necessary to draw up a small list of behaviors to follow, which must be age-appropriate.
Parents must behave as they would like their children to behave.
In this way, children will learn about social norms from day to day and will be able to internalize certain behaviors without difficulty, making them their own.

Consistency is one of the cornerstones underlying the proper observance of rules for children.
If parents point out a certain type of behavior, they must make sure that their child always abides by it, without any change.

Very young children, for example, must be taught the right rules for sleeping and waking; therefore, they must be clear from their infancy that there is a time for playing and a time for sleeping, and the two times must never be confused.

What to do if the child does not listen?

All children are not the same and, for this very reason, to enforce rules there are no behaviors and guidelines to follow that apply to everyone.

If the child does not listen, it could be the fault of an overly permissive parent who, due to lack of time, desire, or excessive fatigue, very often does not have the strength to be incisive.
The adult therefore has the task of always being consistent, regardless of his or her schedule.

A child may not listen for many reasons so, before taking action, it is necessary to understand why he behaves differently from what is required. A child may not understand the parent’s requests because they are worded unclearly or overly contrived.

At the same time, there are children who do not listen because they are too engrossed in playing or whatever else they are doing.

To remedy this and make the child listen, it is important to speak clearly and simply, avoiding too-long sentences but preferring a direct and precise order.
The second tip is to speak in gentle tones; rules should be dictated in the right way, without sounding authoritarian and difficult.

To train children to listen, it is important to have their undivided attention, so it is helpful to call them by name and start talking after eye contact.

What to do when a child does not obey?

If a child does not obey, it very often becomes difficult for a parent to remain calm and in control but it is necessary to make an effort to show authority. The risk is to fall into misbehavior such as spanking.
To make sure that the rules for children are respected a good ally is humor.

Laughing helps the child feel that he is in a cheerful and fun environment that he will not want to leave.
At the same time, humor is the best weapon for channeling experiences into the brain: the more positive and fun this turns out to be, the more the brain will tend to store them.
So if the child is throwing a tantrum because he doesn’t want to do his homework and doesn’t obey, taking a laugh is the best solution.

It may be helpful to recount similar episodes from one’s childhood making the little one feel part of a normalcy known to many.

It is also important to make sure of your child’s non-obedience, which could depend on many factors such as fatigue. Just as tiredness affects you and does not allow you to perform at your best, the same happens to your child: always take his mental and physical state into account when making decisions that involve him.

What to do if a child screams?

Children do not know how to control the tone of their voice and tend to raise it even higher if they are angry (many adults do too).
Children’s screams are often a subject of concern for new parents who find themselves struggling with a situation they cannot handle.

How to enforce rules?

Each child has his or her own character that should not be stifled by the parent but directed to ensure that he or she grows up in the best way possible.
To teach respect to children these suggestions are useful:

  • always speak in a calm and quiet voice in any situation;
  • always be consistent;
  • reward him with words of praise when he behaves well.

We realize that embedding rules within everyday life is not easy and even less so is enforcing them, which is why we have created a pathway that will help you select rules for the whole family.


Effective discipline for children. Paediatr Child Health. 2004 Jan;9(1):37-50. doi: 10.1093/pch/9.1.37. PMID: 19654979; PMCID: PMC2719514.

About the Author

Severino Cirillo

Health, Wellness and Education Expert. With a degree in Community Health, he is the CEO of Informed Parent and is responsible for validating the blog's scientific information and coordinating the editorial team of experts, consisting of gynecologists, midwives, psychotherapists, and others in pregnancy, perinatal, and parenting wellness and health.