Tried & tested household rules for kids and teens

Tried & tested household rules for kids and teens

Having a set of household rules may seem very formal but having a clear set of directives for kids helps to avoid conflict and makes for a happy household.


The importance of family rules

We all need rules and boundaries, whether we’re at work, at school, playing sports or spending time with friends. It may not make you feel like the best parent, but setting rules provides a framework for order and structure and sets clear expectations for behaviour, helping to create a home where everyone can exist happily.


Household rules also play another role within families. They offer the opportunity to positively reinforce your family’s values and expectations around how to treat each other. They also encourage a sense of responsibility, outlining specific tasks, promoting accountability and teaching everyone, even the smallest of kids, to take responsibility for their actions.


​​Living by clear rules also helps kids feel safe and develop important life skills that they use as they get older. These skills include time management, communication, conflict resolution, and the ability to adhere to guidelines. 


Examples of common family rules

Every family has different rules and different priorities when it comes to setting rules. Here are just a few examples of common ones.

  1. No devices at the dinner table: Being a digital parent and encouraging healthy digital behaviour helps kids understand how to use devices in a more balanced way.

  2. Clean up after yourself is a good one for every family member as it reinforces responsibility and encourages everyone to contribute to the household.

  3. Homework before devices: This helps with time management and responsibility by ensuring kids prioritise their tasks.

  4. Be honest: Foster trust within the family by emphasising the importance of honesty. Encourage open communication and let family members know they can share their thoughts without fear of judgement.

  5. Respect everyone’s privacy: Teach the importance of boundaries by establishing a rule that emphasises respecting personal space i.e., knock before you into someone’s room. 

  6. Always apologise: Encourage a culture of accountability by establishing a rule that promotes apologising when needed and forgiving each other for mistakes.

  7. Think about others. Again, one for everyone: think before you use something up or before you say something mean.

  8. Never go to bed angry. Encouraging children to discuss and resolve issues before bedtime helps develop strong communication skills. It teaches them how to express their feelings, build bonds with others and find constructive solutions to conflicts.

  9. Ask before you borrow things. A big one with siblings and one that encourages kids to be respectful of other people’s belongings.

  10. Use your manners. Generally, emphasising good manners helps interactions stay positive within the home.

Recommended steps to create family rules

Creating family rules involves good instruction and collaboration among family members. Here are four steps to help the process:

Create family rules together

Involve everyone in an open discussion about creating family rules. Encourage each person to express his or her thoughts and concerns about what they believe is important in the household.

Keep rules simple

Formulate the rules clearly and simply. Avoid overly complicated rules, and ensure that each family member can easily understand and remember what each rule entails clearly. 

Talk about consequences

Specify the behaviours you want and be clear about any consequences for breaking the rules. Ensure everyone understands that consequences are there to ensure everyone follows the rules.

Post and review

Create a list of house rules and write down the agreed-upon rules in a visible place within the home, such as the kitchen. This serves as a constant reminder for all family members. Schedule regular family meetings to revisit and review the rules. This provides an opportunity to discuss any adjustments or additions to the rules, ensuring they remain relevant over time.



Tips to make family rules work

  1. Be consistent 

Nothing causes rule breakdown faster than being inconsistent about house rules. Make sure what goes for one person goes for everyone so that everyone can see that the rules are fair.

  1. Model what you want to happen

Kids have eagle eyes and will soon notice if you don’t model following the rules. For example, if you say no devices at the table, don’t make work an exception, as it shows kids that house rules can be broken. 

  1. Make rules positive

Frame rules in a positive manner rather than using negative language. For example, say, "Use kind words" instead of "Don't be mean." Positive language promotes a more constructive and encouraging atmosphere.

  1. Clearly outline the expected behaviours

Make the rules actionable, specifying what family members should do rather than just what they should avoid. For example, respecting privacy means knocking before you go into someone’s room, and keeping the house tidy means cleaning up after yourself.

  1. Set clear expectations

Clearly communicate the expectations associated with each rule. For example, ‘Think about others’ means to think before you do something that will affect another family member. Also, be specific about what rules like cleaning up after yourselves mean. For younger kids, it could be about not throwing their toys around, and for older ones, it could be about picking up shoes and coats.

  1. Regularly review and adjust the rules

Plan regular family meetings to review the rules. Discuss how well they are working and if any adjustments are needed. Families evolve, and rules should adapt.


What to expect from children of different ages and abilities

Ideally, house rules should be clear enough that children of all ages can follow them, though different ages may need extra help.

Younger children

Younger children often need to be reminded about house rules simply because they get distracted very easily. Rather than let them off, gently remind them of expectations and consequences. Also, help them with pre-reminders. For example, if they have made a mess with all their toys, remind them of the rule to clean up after themselves.


Tweens are at a developmental stage where they are gaining independence, testing boundaries, and forming their identities. When it comes to house rules, you can expect certain challenges from a bigger desire to have their say. This might happen over homework. a need for privacy and devices. Expectations and consistency are the key here.


Teens undergo significant cognitive changes, and as a result, they will express a desire for increased control over their decisions. This can put them at loggerheads with you and house rules, which is why it’s important to review and adapt rules regularly to make sure they work for everyone..


How can GoHenry help?

Kids learn best by doing. So show them how to manage money for themselves with a GoHenry prepaid kids debit card.  Available for kids aged 6-18, GoHenry is a safe way for kids to practice their financial literacy skills. There’s a companion app for parents which allows you to pay pocket money, monitor spending, top up when necessary and create saving pots. Money Missions is our in-app financial education tool, allowing your kids to explore various financial topics, from budgeting to saving and more.
Written by Anita Naik Published Mar 21, 2024 ● 5 min. read