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The Three Big Rules and Picking and Choosing Your Battles

March 18th, 2014


Every family needs rules. These are THE THREE BIG RULES.

RULE # 1. EVERYONE IS GENTLE WITH EVERYONE’S BODIES. This is a positive way of saying: no kicking, biting, scratching, pinching, choking, hair-pulling, punching, arm-twisting, tripping, etc.

RULE #2. EVERYONE IS GENTLE WITH EVERYONE’S FEELINGS. This is a positive way of saying that we try not to hurt people’s feelings with statements such as”: “You’re ugly,” “You can’t play,” “You can’t come to my birthday party,” “I hate you” or “You’re not my friend.”

RULE #3. EVERYONE IS GENTLE WITH EVERYONE’S THINGS. This is a positive way of saying that everybody should respect other people’s creations and possessions, by not ripping up their painting or knocking down their block castle and  by not grabbing their fire engine or breaking their toy.

These three rules are so basic and so fundamental that they could be posted at The United Nations!

The first two rules are of primary importance because they address rules for social relationships; the third rule, regarding things, is of less importance for your young child to learn at an early age.

These rules can be posted pictorially for your young child who cannot read. For Rule #1, you can have the number 1 followed by a photo or magazine picture of two children hugging or holding hands, that is, being gentle with bodies. For Rule #2, you can have 2 followed by a picture of two children talking together in a friendly way. For Rule #3, you can have 3 followed by a picture of two children playing together cooperatively. Then you can refer to the rules as your child is exhibiting positive behaviors associated with the rules.

“Great job, Garrett. You are using gentle hands with your friend as you are playing. Good job with Rule #1.”

“Your soft voice is so easy to listen to Carina. You are remembering Rule #2.”

With your young child, it is a classic comment: “Pick and choose your battles” or you could be having power struggles 24/7. Your young child is testing their emotional strength and emerging independence with you. It is important on many days to decide that you will only require that your child get dressed, eat, and go to school or daycare. Decide which two or three issues are the most important in your daily life and ignore all the other power struggles for several days. These are “Survival Days,” where you are easing your family’s way through your child’s challenging growing-up. It is important to have realistic expectations with young children.




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