House Rules Every Tween Should Know

Son doing chores
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Every family should have a list of rules that all members are expected to follow. By making your house rules clear to your preteen, you're emphasizing what's important at home and elsewhere.

You can post your house rules on the refrigerator, a family community corkboard, or draw up the rules as a contract for your tween to sign.

Your list of rules will be specific to your family, but here are some general ideas for house rules to get you started.

Keep Your Hands and Feet to Yourself

This house rule probably goes back to when your child was a toddler or preschooler. As much as you've instilled it into your preteen's conscious, you might still find your child going a round or two with a younger sibling or another child.

Everyone, from kids and tweens to grow-ups, has to learn healthy ways to deal with anger, disappointment, and frustration.

If it happens, put a stop to the hitting or kicking behavior immediately and make sure that you follow through on any consequences.

No Cursing

Tweens inevitably hear foul language at school, on the playground, on the sports field, on television, or even in your home. Consequently, they may be tempted to drop a few curse words themselves now and then.

Remind your preteen that cursing will negatively impact the way others view them. If it's one of your rules, enforce a zero-tolerance policy for swear words, both in private at home or out in public.

No Talking Back

If you have a tween, there's no getting around back talk. It's natural for preteens to challenge their parents, and they often do so through talking back, eye-rolling, and slamming doors. While you can't eliminate back talk, you can minimize it.

Make it clear to your child that talking back is a sign of disrespect and that you expect them to be civil—even when they're angry.

You can also minimize backtalk by calmly responding to your tween. You can say, "We'll talk about this again after you've pulled yourself together." Then walk away.

Don't enter into an argument with your child, as it will only add fuel to the fire and escalate the behavior. Instead, say, "You need a few minutes in your room to calm down."

Clean Up After Yourself

This rule will help your child learn independence and responsibility and hopefully reduce the amount of time you spend on clean-up. Expect your tween to clear their plate from the table after dinner, to make their bed, and to leave the bathroom as clean as they found it.

Give your whole family a reminder about messes: "If you made the mess, it's your responsibility to clean up."

Do Your Chores

Assigning chores to your tween is a great way to teach responsibility and to boost your child's self-esteem.

If your preteen gets bored with a particular job, rotate the tasks you assign them. Make sure that your child understands that certain privileges will only be allowed once their chores are completed.

Tell the Truth

Telling the truth is possibly the most important of all the house rules. Stress the importance of trust between parent and child. Explain that you're relying on your child to be as truthful with you as you are with them.

If you suspect your child isn't being truthful, find a way to encourage them to think about their answer—this gives them another chance to tell the truth. When your child lies, encourage them to acknowledge it even if it means they'll be in trouble with you.

Help Younger Siblings

If your preteen has younger siblings, part of their responsibilities should be to help care for them. Tweens can help younger children with homework, keep them busy when you're trying to work or finish a chore or teach them to tackle simple tasks such as tying their shoes.

Do Your Homework

Make sure your child stays on top of school work and is honest with you about their assignments, tests, and projects. A house rule can be that your tween's participation in sports, socializing with friends, watching television, using the computer, or playing video games, are all contingent on homework being done without a fuss.

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