1. When People Give us Good Advice, We Listen.
2. If You’re Doing It Really Hard You’re Probably Not Doing It Right
3. How Could You Make Our Baby Happy?
4. Little Kids Do What Big Kids Tell Them
5. Tyranny Will Not Be Tolerated
6. If You Can’t Work and Talk, Don’t Talk
7. Oh-Kay Mama
8. If a Toy Causes Unhappiness, it Goes Away
9. What are YOU doing to help our family?
So, some of them aren’t “rules” so much as “things I say all day long.” Take this one for example. You’re probably going to hear this if you are, say, standing leaning against the counter while other folks are doing the dishes, or laying on the couch staring at the ceiling for no particular reason.
10. No whinin,’ no cryin,’ no beggin,’ for food, and you carry your own coat.
This is the rule that begat ALL the rules. My mother-in-law said this to her kids. And she says it to mine. And I say it to them too, if they ever have coats, which is almost never.
11. Cryin’ Babies Go to Bed
You guys already know this one. It has a whole blog post.
12. Whistling is an Outside Activity
This one isn’t the end of the world. But, we just find that the comfort of our home and the productivity of its occupants is increased by there not being ANY whistling inside the house. They can go outside and whistle all they please. I think it’s okay to insist upon a certain level of volume inside.
13. Don’t Rush Off to do a Job I Gave to Someone Else
Kids don’t love getting assigned chores, right? Right. But, somehow, they DO love to rush off to do something I asked someone ELSE to do. Why? WHY? I don’t know. But having this rule keeps my kids from pushing, tripping, and elbowing past one another in their rush to do someone else’s job. They’re such weirdos.
14. Sit in a Seat That Someone Isn’t Sitting In
Another one that seems like it shouldn’t be necessary, yes? But it really, really is. There are enough seats on our couch for everyone to sit and watch a movie. There are enough chairs at our table for everyone to sit and eat dinner. But nothing looks better than a seat momentarily vacated by a sibling going to grab a drink. And maybe you’ve been bickering with that particular sibling all day, but NOW if you don’t get to sit next to him by squeezing into a spot that means you’re mostly sitting on top of your sister, you’ll JUST DIE. But then . . . so much unhappiness. So we have this rule.
15. Don’t Take Your Pants Off Without a Plan
And here it is . . . the rule that launched a couple dozen printables.
I think it’s good advice for kids and grownups alike, ya know?
We were getting a lot of: 1. Take pants off. 2. Realize you don’t have any pajamas in your drawer. 3. Kinda pull shirt down, come out to the living room where we have company over to alert mom to the pajama situation.
But NOW, we have a rule.
Acceptable plans around here include:
“1. Take off pants. 2. Get in bathtub,”
“1. Take off pants. 2. Put on pajamas (that are RIGHT THERE),” and
“1. Take off pants. 2. Use as floatation device.” But that last one only works if you happen to be wearing sailor pants.
16. What does God do to complainers?
17. 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.
18. 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.
19. 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.
20. 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.
21. 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.
22. No. No screaming.
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, by popular demand, the Tierney Family Rules are now available in the Catholic All Year Digital Shop, as . . .
Two 8.5×11 inch Collages of All 22 Rules
One 8.5×11 Collage of 20 Rules
They have shipped from the printer. I have copies in hand. Ignatius has copies in stock and is shipping them out. I am assured by the folks at Ignatius that more than enough books to cover pre-orders should have arrived at Amazon warehouses. But, Amazon is saying 1-2 months delivery. I have no idea what’s going on. I have no control over it. But I really don’t think it’s true. It’s got to just be a glitch, and they’ll realize that they have the stock and ship them out this week. That’s what I think. Buy I’m not in charge of Amazon. If you want to cancel your Amazon pre-order and purchase the book from Ignatius, I’m sure Ignatius would be grateful, as Amazon pockets 40% of the list price.
And this deserves its own post, but the Fiat Conference was absolutely amazing, despite THUNDERSTORMS in Los Angeles! Thank you so much to our wonderful speakers, and vendors, and my tireless family and fellow organizers, and the amazing soul who generously donated a professional tent to be installed the night before the event. See you all next year!
Finally, the 2019 Liturgical Year Wall Calendars are now available in two designs, you can order them here.
#3 is the best rule. And actually, it's self-limiting. Once that baby turns into a toddler, and is developmentally able to wait and want to act like a big kid, the other rules start naturally applying.
I have some tattling problems in my house (my early teens seem to thrive on it? Why? Probably the tyranny thing?) . I hope it dies off soon.
I'd have to add -not just whistling outside – recorders, harmonicas, and any annoying noise that a creative 8 yr old can produce.
Thanks for the list!
Help me with one point on Rule #4. How old are the Big Kids and when does one become one? My four are 10, 8, 5, and 3. The most natural break seems to be 10 and 8 / 5 and 3. But the 5 year old certainly doesn't see herself as a LITTLE KID, particularly compared with her 8 year old sister. So how to create and enforce this distinction?
It's a rather mushy distinction, and really depends on the specific situation. Midge (3) is fond of saying she's a little kid AND a big kid. She has to give stuff to the baby because she is big, but she has to take a nap and let big kids help her do stuff because she is little.
If there is an official break around here, it's first communion/age of reason at between 6 and 8. That's when our kids start getting real responsibilities, and responsibilities are what equal bigness, not privileges. Those are secondary.
what are the consequences for breaking the rules? My oldest is 4 and I have yet to find a consequence that he cares about/that will reinforce the correct behavior.
We try to do natural consequences whenever possible, i.e. if you choose to not eat, you are hungry, if you choose to not take a nap, you have to go to bed early, etc. But we also do hand or bottom spankings or sitting in a corner at that age as necessary. The important thing isn't that they act as if the consequence bothers them. Stinker kids are very adept at acting like stuff doesn't bother them. But NOT going to sit in a corner is empirically better than going to sit in a corner, so I don't let them scam me. Just being consistent on it, even if they act like they don't care, has been effective long term at our house. I've got a ton of posts with more specifics, if you check out the Family & Parenting tab.
Um…can I just admit that as a veteran mom of 8, I'm sitting here having a huge light bulb moment over this concept. See, my youngest is three, and he is my stinker kid, more than all the rest put together. Kid makes me feel like a rookie. I'm liking this concept…as in, the cop doesn't care if you don't care if you go to jail. It's just what happens. Now to go plot my next move in the mom vs preschooler chess game I seem to be embroiled in…lol.
that makes so much sense! Thank you
These rules are so great!
Our rules are:
– Take Care of Yourself
– Take Care of Others
– Take Care of Your Environment
In reality it breaks down pretty similarly to your list.
I love the quote from Ramona Quimby's dad, "Once is funny, twice is silly, 3rd time's a spanking."
Thanks for the book update and the new calendar. Sigh…Amazon…
I have loved the calendar even more than I anticipated and look forward to another.
Kendra, I love these rules. As the father of 10 they certainly ring true. I'de probably add one more rule about stuff being a lot easier to find if you put it away where it belongs (football boots, wetsuits, school ties, hats etc etc). After almost 20 years of a daily "Where's my xxx?" ritual as we rush out the door I think it deserves its own rule! Perhaps "You wear it, you're responsible!" which would implicitly include duties such as washing, drying, folding and storing after use.
Looking forward to the arrival of your book. Keep up the good work, your example is an inspiration to us.
So much <3 <3 <3 for this. Number 16's my favorite.
Sometimes, but not always, my kids say "Yes, ma'am!" and march off to do what I've asked them to. I'd prefer an "Oh-kay, Mama!" since I'll NEVER get used to being a ma'am!
I love these rules! A few of our own include "No singing at the table", "Recorders are only for the basement" (especially important for fourth graders), and "Shoes on before you eat breakfast". If I didn't have hunger to motivate them, no one would ever find their shoes in times for school. Also, "Where there is a will, there's a way" is said here A LOT!
I’m so encouraged by this. I can’t stand things being repeated over and over and I thought it was just me. But there it is on your list!! And so many more that I thought were just me! Love this post.
I need #6 for my freshman class! #chattyclass
Kendra, these are great! Can you maybe do a post on how you enforce these rules in your home? My house rules are constantly being broken and it’s so hard to find a consequence for every single infringement all day long. Any books you can recommend would be helpful to for models of discipline. I have read a few with various theories but am curious what model you use. I have three boys ages 8, 7, and 5. Thank you!