The 21 Rules of This House, listed below, cover just about every situation common to young children and teens. They were developed over 30 years ago to help my wife and me be more consistent in what we required of our children as members of our household. It is so easy to allow our own moods to change the boundaries of what we will tolerate from one day to the next. In far too many homes the only real rule is to stay out of Mom or Dad's way when they are in a bad mood. Otherwise, when they are in agood mood, the kids can get away with almost anything. The goal in the use of the 21 Rules is to clarify what is pleasing and displeasing to parents, regardless of their moods, and to administer discipline without anger, and then only in response to willful defiance of what the child knows to be right.
My oldest son, Joshua Harris, now a respected author and pastor, illustrated each house rule for a coloring book when he was just 14 years old. We published it successfully for many years. Used copies are still available occasionally through Amazon.com's Used Book search engine. I post them here in response to many requests from families with younger children.
The 21 Rules Of This House
by Gregg Harris
1. We obey God.
2. We love, honor and pray for one another.
3. We tell the truth.
4. We consider one anothers interests ahead of our own.
5. We speak quietly and respectfully with one another.
6. We do not hurt one another with unkind words or deeds.
7. When someone needs correction, we correct him in love.
8. When someone is sorry, we forgive him.
9. When someone is sad, we comfort him.
10. When someone is happy, we rejoice with him.
11. When we have something nice to share, we share it.
12. When we have work to do, we do it without complaining.
13. We take good care of everything that God has given us.
14. We do not create unnecessary work for others.
15. When we open something, we close it.
16. When we take something out, we put it away.
17. When we turn something on, we turn it off.
18. When we make a mess, we clean it up.
19. When we do not know what to do, we ask.
20. When we go out, we act just as if we were in this house.
21. When we disobey or forget any of the 21 Rules of This House, we accept the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
Instructions: Post the list on your refrigerator door or other prominent location in your home. When misbehavior occurs, draw attention to which House Rule has been violated and repeat the rule a few times and explain what it means. Once the meaning becomes clear, discipline your child for any expressions of willful defiance. Over time, the rules will be internalized by each child as a general statement of the behavioral boundaries. Remember that these rules follow you and your child wherever they go. Discipline should only be administered in private, in love for the child, never in anger or in any way that would ever do harm. The challenge is to be consistent so that such discipline is eventually no longer needed.