Every family should have a list of rules for all to follow, from parent on down. By making your house rules clear to your preteen, you're emphasizing what's important both at home and everywhere else. You can post your house rules on the refrigerator or a family community cork board. Or, write the houses rules up as a contract for your tween to sign.
You will no doubt have a list of rules that are specific to your family. Below are house rules you'll likely want your family to follow.
House Rules All Tweens Should Know
Keep Your Hands and Feet to Yourself
This house rule probably goes all the way back to when your child was a toddler or preschooler. As much as you've instilled this rule into your preteen's conscious, it's possible to find your child going a round or two with a younger sibling or another child. Stop the behavior right away, and follow through on any consequences you've tied to hitting or kicking. Your tween has to learn other ways to deal with anger, disappointment or frustration.
Tweens hear foul language at school, on the playground, on the sports field, on television, and everywhere else. No wonder they're tempted to drop a few curse words every now and then. Remind your preteen that cursing will negatively impact the way others view him, and that cursing is not allowed at home, or anywhere else.
There's no getting around back talk, not if you have a tween. It's natural for preteens to challenge their parents and they do that by talking back, eye-rolling, and slamming doors. You can't eliminate back talk, but you can minimize it. Make it clear to your child that talking back is a sign of disrespect and that you expect your child to be civil, even when he's angry. You can also minimize backtalk by responding to your tween in a calm manner. You can say, "We'll talk about this again after you've pulled yourself together." Then walk away. Or you can say, "You need a few minutes in your room to calm down." Don't enter into an argument with your child. That will only add fuel to the fire and escalate the behavior.
Clean-Up After Yourself
This rule will help your child learn independence and responsibility and will hopefully reduce the amount of time you spend on clean-up. Expect your tween to clear his plate after dinner, to make his bed, and to leave the bathroom as clean as he found it. In other words, if he made the mess, it's his!
Assigning chores to your tween is a great way to teach responsibility and to boost your child's self-esteem. Rotate chores when your preteen gets bored with a particular job, and be sure your child understands that certain privileges will only be allowed once his or her chores are completed.
Tell the Truth
Telling the truth is possibly the most important of all the house rules. Stress the importance of trust between parent and child, and that you're relying on your child to be as truthful with you as you are with him. If you suspect your child isn't being truthful, find a way to encourage him to think about his answer, in order to give him another chance. Be sure to acknowledge it when you preteen tells the truth, even if it means getting in trouble with you.
Help Younger Siblings
If your preteen has younger siblings, part of his responsibilities should be to help care for them. Your tween can help your younger children with homework, by keeping them busy when you're trying to work or finish a chore, or by showing them how to tackle simple tasks such as tying their shoes.
Your preteen is old enough to tackle homework and projects without having to be constantly reminded. He should also understand that participation in sports, playing with friends or watching television are all contingent on his finishing his homework without making a big fuss.