Them's the Rules: Part II (Seven Quick Takes)

by | Sep 25, 2015 | Parenting, Printables | 20 comments

Here we go on the second installment of . . . Them’s the Rules! Wherein I share with you our family rules and things I say one hundred times a day, with images I made in a weird fit of graphic design-themed nesti-ness the day before Mary Jane was born.
Here’s Part I, in case you missed it.
1. What does God do to complainers? He sends snakes to bite them.
Really, I just love this one. I love it so much I wrote a blog post about it AND a reflection at Blessed is She about it. My kids know this one so well, that now I don’t even have to say it. I can just hiss and poke them with two fingers. And THEY KNOW.

2. Is that a tool, or a toy?

I don’t know about yours, but my kids are always messing with stuff they ought not be messing with. So we have this rule to help little kids (and big kids who need reminding) learn to distinguish between things that should be played with and things that should just be used for their intended purpose.

So . . . Scissors: okay for cutting paper. Not okay for putting in your mouth to make your cheeks poke out funny. Oven mitt: okay for moving a hot pan. Not okay for having a puppet show. Rubber mulch: okay for walking on, or falling upon from a great height. Not okay for filling your pockets or winging at your sister.

3. Don’t look at me when you’re talking to him.

This one is just tattling, disguised as not tattling.

We have a family rule that before you come to tell mom or dad, you must take up the issue with the person with whom you are having a problem. Or, if you see someone breaking a family rule, you’re to remind him and give him a chance to stop before you involve mom and dad.

But, unfortunately, that rule necessitated this rule, because a lot of the “reminders” ended up being shouted right past the offender, right to me.

4. What do we say when someone helps us? (thank you, not: I WANNA DO IT!)

This one has always been directed mostly at the one to three year old set. But I currently have a seven year old who is terribly offended at assistance of any kind and still needs reminders.

It is a fact of life that toddlers need help for many, many things. But most of them do NOT want that help. My toddlers all want to “do it aself.” That’s great. I love that. I’m a huge fan of encouraging independence, even in toddlers. But sometimes we just need the hand washing or unbuckling to happen this decade and there will need to be help. So, when the shrieking begins, I remind them of the preferred response.

5. Three times is the limit, for singin’ stuff, sayin’ stuff, and doin’ stuff.

Much like whoever makes The Fast and the Furious movies, my kids believe that if something was good once, it will be good fifteen times. But, I think WE can agree that that just isn’t true. Three times is plenty for that novelty song about a duck at a lemonade stand or that knock knock joke.

6. Unless it’s dangerous or destructive, you’re just tattling.

That’s two anti-tattling rules in this list. But, MAN do I hate tattling. So, there ya go.

Basically our rule is that the kids should make every effort to handle things amongst themselves. They are Team Kid and we are Team Grown Up, and they should be trying to take care of each other, and address problems between members of their team without involving us.

However, if it’s dangerous or destructive, I want to know about it.

7. No. No screaming.

My formerly Sweetest Baby in the Universe has become a Regular Old Toddler, so this rule is in high rotation around here. I can’t abide shrieking. I just can. not. So, we don’t allow shrieks of anger or frustration or glee. You can BE angry or frustrated or gleeful, you just can’t scream about it.

So, if there is screaming, there is one warning, then there is a trip to the corner or the crib, depending on how old you are. It’s pretty effective . . . eventually. Even with really stubborn kids.

And that’s all for today. But don’t worry, there’s at least one more post where this one came from.

Update! The rest of the rules can be found in this post.

And, by popular demand, the Tierney Family Rules are now available in the Catholic All Year Digital Shop, as . . .

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Two 8.5×11 inch Collages of All 22 Rules

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One 8.5×11 Collage of 20 Rules

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  1. Isabelle

    I really liked your "people are more important than things" one (although I can't remember of you've made it into a printable yet!). I've been using it quite a bit, and I reckon will be using it all the more when little sib comes along in January!

    • Kendra

      I can't believe I didn't make that one. Next frenzy for sure . . .

  2. Theresa

    My kids know that lemonade duck song too…………………………………
    And I often use the "it's a tool not a toy" comeback also.
    (Thanks for sharing the fruits of your graphic design frenzy. They're always so cute!)

  3. me

    I agree with rule #4, though I can fully understand why a toddler or smaller person would say "I wanna do it." I have too many mother hens (of all ages and genders) in my house, and often small people have a large sibling swoop in to help even when no help is required. So my refrain is usually, "I appreciate that you want to help. But remember to ask if help is wanted first!" I think some of my younger children are doing some things later simply because they get so used to a taller sibling coming to a rescue. So frustration either way!

    I do like the tool or toy rule – though with my toddler is usually "Is that a mouth toy?" for all of the miscellaneous crap she picks up and tries to chew – tools included.

    These are fun – thank you for sharing them!

  4. Amanda

    We have very similar rules but yours are worded so much better! I'm stealing them 🙂

  5. Staci

    Oh my gosh. These are killing me. I really am going to have to order a huge pack of cheap frames and line the stairway to my kids' room with them ALL! Ha! Gallery wall of rules.

    • Мaria

      Ha. Soon all these houses are gonna have your rules prominently displayed. :]]] Crucifix, icons, rosaries, saint stories, liturgically appropriate decor, catholicallyear house rules. Ha ;]

      (even tho the nonconformist in me tells me I should be able to come with completely original content always no matter what, the common sense part says thanks for your knack for taking these things and making them into something bite-sized and realistic! It's quite helpful! And pretty to boot)

  6. Athena Carson

    But, but … I LOVE the song about the duck and the lemonade stand!

    Or maybe I just love the fact that both my girls love the song and will get along temporarily while they sing it together. I MUCH prefer the sound of them singing to the sound of them bickering.

  7. Amanda

    So basically you made printables for all my family rules? Thanks! ;). Seriously though, we have 5/7 of these rules as standards at our house. And your 3x rule sounds like it'd be a perfect addition to my repertoire! I'm so over the kids wanting to watch the same tv show a billion times…even if it's good at first it quickly becomes not good by the fourth time!

  8. Kirby

    I do the 3 times rule for so many things! Especially when the baby is discovering how gravity works. SHE might like to watch it drop an infinite number of times, but I will only pick it up twice. Drop it a third time and you have to find a different game.

    I also like doing appropriate usage of tools. I do believe in letting kids use real stuff pretty early (we've been learning how to properly use a screwdriver with the 3 year old), but that is always coupled with learning the importance of using power wisely. If you start using the rolling pin as a bat instead of rolling out the pie crust, rolling pin goes away.

    • Kendra

      Yes. I feel like three times is me letting them get whatever it is out of their system a bit. But also keeping my sanity (a bit).

  9. Catie

    Oh my! The looking at me while fussing at him thing. I thought it was just my kids. These are perfect. The other thing I say 20 times a day: sand stays in the sandbox.

    • Kendra

      YES! "Sand stays in the sandbox" is definitely a rule here. That needs a printable too.

  10. Allison Howard

    You are SO good. Keep these coming so I can parent all these small babies better over the years.

  11. Melissa

    Thank you so much for posting these, Kendra.
    Sometimes I say the same thing over and over. It's nice to have a quick easy to remember (for me) way to get the kids to do what they should. They are quippy (is that a word?) enough to get the message across, but still keep everyone smiling. Especially me.
    We just got back from a big state fair in New England. Your "No Whining, No Crying, No Begging For Food, And Everyone Carries Their Own Jacket" rule was golden. We had the best time.
    Please keep posting these!

  12. Kathleen M.

    This is abso-bloomin-lutely FABULOUS. I want to know how you make this work????? Because all my anti-tattling attempts flop right on the floor with the abandoned LEGOs and baby doll arms…

    • Kendra

      I will admit that it's not been 100% effective. There is still tattling. But my hope is that there is LESS tattling than there would otherwise be, without the rules. And at least the rules let me cut them off quickly, mid-tattle.

  13. Jenny Cook

    "Much like whoever makes The Fast and the Furious movies, my kids believe that if something was good once, it will be good fifteen times."

    Buuuuuuurrrrnnnnn! (and true)

  14. Nathan Czaia

    I love these so much! I want to put them up, but I can't save the Complaining snake bite one! That one is much needed in our house.
    Maria czaia

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Hi! I’m Kendra.

For twenty years now, I’ve been using food, prayer, and conversation based around the liturgical calendar to share the lives of the saints and the beautiful truths and traditions of our Catholic faith. My own ten children, our friends and neighbors, and people just like you have been on this journey with me.

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