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how do I phrase this "rule"?  RSS feed

 
master steward
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My husband loves to make up half-serious rules for our kids. I'd like to add one to it, but so far he hates all the ways I've phrased it, so I'm coming to you for help. For background, here's the rest of the Alderman Family Rules:

Rule #1: Don't Get Squished.
Rule #2: Don't Squish Others.
Rule #3: Don't Be Naked.
Rule #4: You Can Dance if You Want To.
Rule #5: Please Don't Make a Mess.
Rule #6: Please Don't Make a Fuss. (I added this one when our son was 2...for obvious reasons!)

I'd like rule #7 to be something like "Waste not, want not" or "be a good steward" or "take care of the things you have" or "make good use of your resources." But, my husband thinks those wordings are lame &/or over the heads of our 4 year old and 1 year old.

Do you have any ideas for how to phrase this?

Feel free to also share your family rules if you have them!  
 
gardener
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Don't wreck our house or our stuff.

Don't spill stuff that we need.

Does the naked rule just apply to outside or in public or is it a rule for everywhere? My kids ran around the house naked when they were little. I used to babysit a kid who would always strip completely naked, to eat. When he first did it, I asked, why are you taking your clothes off? His big sister, who was 4, said "my mom's tired of doing laundry." They had a rule just for him. No eating with your clothes on.
 
Nicole Alderman
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Dale, how did you know that my son's been doing those exact things?! LOL! :-D

Yesterday he unrolled a WHOLE ROLL OF TOILET PAPER all over the floor and then told me something like, "Oh, I did it because we don't need that toilet paper." Without a word, I went in his room and starting taking pennies from his coin bucket. "Mama, why are you taking my coins?!?!" I said, "The toilet paper doesn't come from nowhere. We have to spend money to buy more toilet paper. Either you roll that back up and you use it until it's gone, or I use some of your coins to buy another roll of toilet paper." He chose to roll up the toilet paper. I helped him (it's not easy to roll up a roll of toilet paper, especially when one is only 4!). We had another one of our "When you break something, we have to take time, money, and effort to fix or buy another one. That's time/money/effort we could be spending on something else."

We've really been working on not wasting time, too (if he goes potty and washes his hands quickly before nap, he gets to spend the extra time playing), or life (we don't just kill plants or squish bugs without a reason--thankfully he appears to have figured that one out). And, yeah, he makes messes and breaks stuff just for fun. I personally don't understand the lure of breaking things just to break things. Neither my brother nor I did that. My husband said that's all he ever wanted to do as a kid, so maybe it's not that abnormal...???
 
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Oh, so many people will disagree with me here, but this is how I was brought up. It may seem tough or harsh, but it was effective for the 6 of us (myself and siblings). It's a lesson in cause and effect; and actions and consequences. Children of all ages know value. It may not be monetary value. It may be more of a possessive value. Therefore, if you say take care of ____ OR ELSE you will not keep/have access to/be allowed to ____ AND FOLLOW THROUGH with the rule EVERY TIME (no exceptions)...they will quickly see that you mean business.
 
Dale Hodgins
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I don't know how early most vandals get their start. It's something that never appealed to me, at least not for sport. That's probably something you want to nip in the bud.
 
Nicole Alderman
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The naked rule is very rarely brought up. I actually forgot what rule #3 was and had to go and ask my husband. We pretty much only apply it in public, and now that he's older we try to keep at least underware covering his bottom. We also invoke it when he tries to go pee in front of people other than the four of us, or when he comes out of the bathroom without his pants on when there are guest over. It's more of a reminder than anything.

And, of course, rule #4 is alway sung thusly:



:D
 
Dale Hodgins
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Totally agree on the follow-through. An action must have the same consequence every time, and both parents must be on side, or the children will always learn how to work you against one another.
 
Nicole Alderman
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I don't know how early most vandals get their start. It's something that never appealed to me, at least not for sport. That's probably something you want to nip in the bud.



Yes, it's definitely something we've been actively nipping in the bud. There's always a consequence for destroying things on purpose, and lots of reminders to be careful when he's just being careless, and training on how to be careful, and redirecting to things that he CAN destroy (you can hack at the salmonberry hedge all you want, you can throw rocks down the driveway, you can smack rocks together, etc), and sometimes he just gets sent to his room because if he can't be gentle, he can't be around everyone else.

I'm thankful for all the years I worked in a preschool and got to teach other kids...and learn what works and what doesn't work with little kids, both the "easy ones" and the "hard ones." It helps immensely with my "not-so-easy one." I love him dearly, and he's really smart and quite the philosopher so I'm sure we'll be able to move him past this. But, man, he sure does make me want to pull my hair out a lot!
 
Mother Tree
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Our main one was - What dad says goes, unless mom disagrees. It sounds weird, but it stopped one parent getting played off against the other.  And I think I only twice saw fit to disagree.

I'm sure there were a couple more, but at some point we added - no going to bed with oothecas in your pocket.

And - no floating apples in donkey's water bucket just so you can watch her play apple-bobbing.
 
Nicole Alderman
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Karen Donnachaidh wrote:Oh, so many people will disagree with me here, but this is how I was brought up. It may seem tough or harsh, but it was effective for the 6 of us (myself and siblings). It's a lesson in cause and effect; and actions and consequences. Children of all ages know value. It may not be monetary value. It may be more of a possessive value. Therefore, if you say take care of ____ OR ELSE you will not keep/have access to/be allowed to ____ AND FOLLOW THROUGH with the rule EVERY TIME (no exceptions)...they will quickly see that you mean business.



Like my husband and myself as small children, my son is very stubborn. He throws things,  they get put up. He breaks something--or tries to break it--he doesn't get to play with it. He keeps doing the thing, he goes in his room. we try to stay positive and help him know that he CAN do better and we will help him, and he's not doomed to always make bad choices (it're really easy for kids to feel like they can't do better).

Thankfully my husband and I both know the value of both parents being on the same team. My parents always were, and the thought never occurred to me to use them against each other. My husband's parents would frequently go against each other (Mom says no trick or treating. Dad gets a pillow case, turns it into a ghost costume and sneaks the kids out to trick or treat). They also constantly changed their rules and consequences, in hopes that the new one would work, but in reality all it did was make him more confused and insecure and continue to "test" to see what the rules are. Kids are smart little scientists. From birth, they are trying to figure out the wold and how to survive and thrive, and so they experiment and test to try to figure out what the rules are and what they need to do. If we aren't consistent, it's really confusing for them, and they run even more experiments to try and figure out this confusing world...which usually ends up with more "acting out."

So, yeah, we are always consistent, but this little guy still thinks that because something is fun, he should be able to do it, "I did it because it made me happy" or "I did it because it was fun." He's literally told us that. Sigh. Thus the need for some sort of "rule #7"!
 
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Protect our wealth.
Protect our stuff.

It was originally presented to me as "Don't throw away your wealth". But I prefer mantras to be positive.
 
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My mother-in-law's saying was "Be glad what you got".  I think it was aimed a bit more at being thankful and not whining but it could be applied to respecting the earth and other desirables.
 
Dale Hodgins
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Sounds to me like she had heard quite enough complaints and was done, whether it be for that day or permanently.
 
Nicole Alderman
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Mike Jay wrote:My mother-in-law's saying was "Be glad what you got".  I think it was aimed a bit more at being thankful and not whining but it could be applied to respecting the earth and other desirables.




Reminds me of the phrase that a teacher that I used to work with used, "You get what you get, and you don't throw a hissy fit"
 
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We have pretty general rules that seem to grow as our kids grow.  

Be respectful
Be polite
Pay attention
Speak clearly

That's pretty much it.  As they grow we just add in new sub rules as a matter of course.  For example, when one of them suddenly began shredding books at age 3, I put all of the books on the shelf and we talked about how it wasn't respectful to break things that belong to everyone.  Until she could show respect for the books, she'd have to wait until mom or dad had time to sit and read with her.  That way, we all could enjoy the books and they would stay in one piece for a lot longer.   That seemed like a fair deal. Certainly better than having no books at all.
So now my kids have a sense of what it means to be respectful, and that there are consequences for being disrespectful.  When a new situation arises, they can ask themselves if it's a respectable thing to do or not.  They see that actions are more than just one time events, so they plan ahead quite well.  Before asking for some tv time, they clean their rooms and usually ask me if there is anything they can help with.  It's a good set up.  Kids will work quite hard as long as they can understand the rules and rely on them to work as laid out.  That's where teamwork and consistency comes into play.  As long as the rules don't change and you always stick to your word, kids will figure it out pretty fast.  

As a side note, kids can be destructive for a lot of reasons.  Sometimes it's just part of trying to figure out what the world is made of and how things work.  That includes seeing mom's reaction to what you've drawn on the bathroom wall with the stick of deodorant you thought was a huge crayon.
Destruction out of spite, anger or for attention is a whole other ball of wax.  That goes right back to the "respect" rule.  
 
Karen Donnachaidh
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Rule #1: Don't Get Squished.
Rule #2: Don't Squish Others.

I really like these two rules. 🐞
 
pollinator
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I have 4 daughters, aged 4, 10, 11, and 12.

Here when they start squabbling, we will yell into the bedrooms, "Fight nice"!
 
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Your rules are great, and people have lots of good suggestions.  I don't know what's a better way to phrase the waste not, want not concept.  But sort of related - in my childhood, my dad talked frequently and showed examples of "planned obsolescence".  I knew that term starting at around 5 years old.  My dad took us with him to work fixing houses, so we got to see a lot of examples in tools, practices, etc.

I'm reminded of the old German House Rules, too.  I saw these at a friend's house many years ago, and realized we had these, though unspoken, in my childhood.

German House Rules
If you turn it on, turn it off.
If you open it, close it.
If you move it, put it back.
If you borrow it, return it.
If you break it, repair it.
If you make a mess, clean it up.
If it is none of your concern, keep it that way.

I would definitely add "don't squish" to those above.  Then they would be pretty complete!  haha

My mom also had certain rules, one of which was "If it's wet and it's not yours, don't touch it."  Also good!
 
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Based on my experience as an educator and basic research on developmental psych, it seems like a lot of his behaviors are his own little experiments, and some of them are on you. One theory why young children drop things repeatedly is because they see no reason why it should fall every time instead of fly or hover. They have a skepticism of causality that would make David Hume proud. Similarly, he is testing, "what will Mom do if I do x,y or z?" My cousin his age was fascinated with "Will it blend?" and basically anything else that rotates.
 
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:
Protect our wealth.
Protect our stuff.

It was originally presented to me as "Don't throw away your wealth". But I prefer mantras to be positive.



I was thinking along these lines, too. My attempt to translate that to the younger set came out as:

"Cherish the good things."

I think a young one could learn what "cherish" means pretty quickly. And LOTS of things are good things. In permaculture, we think plants that others might consider weeds and bugs are good things, as just a couple examples.


 
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Our way of preventing our kids from playing one parent against the other was "If either mom or dad says no, it's no!"

At one point my kids were get into the habit about fighting of stuff.  If it was something cheap or something I didn't care much about, I would bring them to the woodstove, explain that stuff was less important than their relationship and I wouldn't keep anything around that threatened that.  Then I threw the toy, book, whatever it was into the burning wood stove.  If it was something more valuable, I gave the same speech and confiscated it for a good, long time.  They quickly learned that fighting over 'stuff' was unprofitable and figured out how to share.

I always felt that if someone was in an argumentative, foul mood it was like a fart in a crowded elevator.  It just ruins the experience for everyone.  We instituted a rule "Don't foul the air".  When someone was not fit to be around others, they had to go outside or into a room alone until they could sweeten up.
 
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