How to get kids to obey rules?

Picture of father and son.

Good discipline is to teach children what is expected of them.

It implies the setting up of rules and regulations that must be followed.

Rules, however, must be few. Too many rules confuse and discourage a child.

Children need an non-confused, clear-cut picture of rules you expect them to keep.

In fact, children find bolstering comfort in having clear limits set as to what they may and may not do.

Hands that firmly guide them along the set way are generally accepted by children as loving hands.

Helping them keep rules

Children should be able to count on their parents to help them keep the rules.

Do not expect them to obey rules if you as parent are lax about obeying rules.
Do not expect them to be what you are not.

The younger ones imitate the older ones, just as these, in turn, imitate their elders.

If the mother and father go through a stop sign, take shortcuts, drink heavily, curse, and so forth, children that see and hear may follow a similar course.

Even though obedience is regarded as the first virtue, and a spank is occasionally used to jolt the child back on the right track, the primary discipline is that of example and environment.

Since learning begins shortly after birth, discipline must begin then also.

However, try to give the child a reason for not doing certain things.

“Don’t touch. It will hurt you.”

Let your voice and facial expressions show that you mean every word you say.

Tell the truth.

Sooner or later the child will discover that it was not hot and you will not be obeyed next time.

Therefore, if you use some key word falsely to get your way, a child will test you to find out if you are telling the truth or not.

So do not give the child a reason not to believe you. It could prove to be fatal.

Children should be warned that if they break rules they will be punished.

But do not threaten to turn a child over to the police or send him or her to reformed school unless you intend to act.

If you fail to carry out your threat, the child will not take you seriously.

It may even serve as a reminder to the child that he or she can get away with the same misbehavior.

In fact, at times a warning or a threat acts as a challenge to a child.

The child will purposely ignore the warning to see if you will carry out your threat.

So never issue a warning you do not mean or cannot fulfill.

Be swift about keeping your word.

Any inconsistency is a blow to good discipline.

Parents and rules of discipline

Mother and father must follow the same set of rules of discipline. 

They must back each other up even when they may not see eye to eye in a given situation.
If one says, “It is study time,” then it is study time!

It is no time to be watching television or playing.

If there is a disagreement, then the parents in private, away from the child’s hearing, can discuss and decide whether to change the study hour to another time.

If one parent changes the rules of the other, the child learns to question all the decisions made.

The child will often try to play one parent against the other just to get his or her way.

It is not good to say, “Wait till your father gets home.”

The child loses respect for the one who shifts the responsibility.

This also applies to fathers who feel that the care of children and disciplining them of them are strictly a mother’s job.

A father who firmly disciplines his children finds that in the long-term they will love him better, feel more comfortable with him, and actually enjoy him more if he will assert himself in the usual parental way.

His wife can help him by showing the children that she respects his judgment and position.


Remember no matter how superficially mature a child appears to be he or she is still a child.

And rules will still be needed. Hence, parents have to take charge.

 Although input from each child should be encouraged, but ultimately all decisions must rest with the parents.

Rules should be made, they should be explicit and repeated over and over again.

Children shouldn't have the responsibility for making their own rules.