How to create effective, loving rules


Original Photo: Ginnerobot via Flickr



The secret to enforcing effective and loving rules is pretty easy: Have very few rules.

Our children — as I’m sure most do — have their own rhythms and grooves that are a life of their own. I cannot change those idiosyncrasies anymore than they can change my own. Some days they listen well. Some days they do not. Some days are easy. Some days are not.

It’s our job to be consistent, as hard as that may be some days.

Someone asked me to post our rules. Our rules have changed over the years from none to a few to a lot to now the Fink Five, which I’ll explain in more detail below.

1. Be Kind.

2. Be Flexible.

3. Be Helpful.

4. Be a Good Sport.

5. Be a Risk Taker.


Be kind pretty much encompasses everything from using kind words, to keeping your hands and your feet to yourself to offering up some empathy when you hurt someone.

Be flexible comes up more frequently than you might imagine such as when the only pair of socks she wants to wear are in the wash but she has seven other pair clean … she chooses the next best pair.

Be helpful at all times. Period. Cooperate. Assist the family. Do your part. Do extra when you can.

Be a good sport is important but it’s also hard for children to learn so they need to be reminded that sometimes they won’t win, sometimes they will be chosen last and sometimes life just isn’t fair.

Be a risk taker is last but not least. It means to try your best, give everything a go and never back down from trying something new even if you’re afraid or worried about making a mistake. This includes taking initiative to learn new things, being curious about the unknown and mysteries of the world as well as helping out friends and family in new ways. This is about putting your whole self into something that might be uncertain and still be OK with it.

We post these rules on our fridge. But, I also have two other lists that I can point to. The first is a list of the character education attributes that they learn through school as well as through home. When I see them demonstrating one of those skills, I refer to that list.

And, we also use the THINK list. You may have seen this on Pinterest in a few places. It’s pretty much genius for adults and children alike!


T – Is it true?

H – Is it helpful?

I – Is it inspiring?

N – Is it necessary?

K – Is it kind?

I refer to this list quite often and my daughter who struggles with speaking too quickly and saying mean things without thinking has really taken this to heart.

And we have another rule that’s not written down.

We’re not allowed to say I CAN’T.

How about you? What’s your feelings about rules — the ones you were raised with, the ones you enforce now, the ones at your child’s school? Do the rules we place on our children restrict them or help them grow? How do you feel about rules? Please share in the comments!


Seeking more peaceful days?

Sign up for The Abundant Mama's Weekly Emails & Download your FREE copy of The Abundant Mama's Guide to Peaceful Mornings.

18 Responses to How to create effective, loving rules

  1. I have been thinking about your rules post for a few days now. We don't really have specific rules (kids ages 5yr and 3 yr) yet my kids are (most of the time!) polite, well behaved, and receive compliments for their appropriate behavior on a regular basis. #1 thing we try to do: model appropriate behavior for our kids. I enjoyed reading your rules. I think rules exist in my home, but maybe not in writing. Definitely something for us to explore!

    • Thank you. I didn't think rules were a good idea until my girls turned 6. Suddenly, I felt they really needed specifics. Most of the time we never have to worry about rules but now and then it's nice to point to Be Kind and remind them of the bigger picture. : )

    • My oldest just started kindergarten and I like the few simple rules posted in his classroom. Your post was timely as we had just started talking about how/when we'd make more 'stringent' rules as our boys got older. Great topics here, keep 'em comin'!

  2. Thank you for sharing this. Just this weekend my hubby and I were hard at work whittling away at rules in our house, making them more understandable and mostly minimizing. I love your set and will use it when as I process the list we have into something that feel great for our family. I especially like “THINK”, I have a little one who could benefit greatly from this!

    • I have found these rules and THINK to be pretty much perfect in all situations. We have to talk a lot about what it means to be flexible but they are getting it. I’d love it if you posted your rules you come up with … when ready!

  3. Yesterday I wrote the THINK acronym on bright paper and taped it to the door. Thanks for the tip, it’s one my hubby and I have to consider too!

  4. I LOVE the idea of family rules & have been trying to decide on some of our own. But the list always seemed long & daunting :( I wanted them to be short, easy to remember, easy to understand–I really appreciate this jumping off point:))) Thanks!

  5. I may borrow your THINK guide for my Middle School age art group. Rumors are so prevailant at that age and I think that would be a very useful guide for them.

  6. We are on the same page so often. I would react exactly the same way if a note came home from the teacher about my son talking in class. I also agree that the key about family rules is to not sweat it and not have too many rules. We're pretty flexible around here, things are thought through rationally and it's the bigger picture rules (kindness, thoughtfulness, being helpful) that we focus on. Thanks so much for linking up to The Sunday Parenting Party again this week.

Ready to be intentional AND productive? Get on our email list and download the 10 Habits of Highly Effective Mamas workbook instantly.

Shawn Fink - Abundant MamaFrom Our Founder

I created The Abundant Mama Project to inspire overwhelmed, busy mothers to slow down and let go of the worries and concerns that are holding them back from experiencing joyful motherhood. Read More »
Loading Quotes...

© Abundant Mama, Website by Christine Marie Studio.