I worked closely with a world-renowned behaviorist for the past five years implementing a positive behavior support program in over 20 elementary schools. One of the fundamental components of the program is to have a set of 3-5 school-wide rules. These rules are easily adapted for the home and are the foundation to your family’s discipline system.
First choose the 3-5 rules for your home. The three most common rules are Be Safe, Be Respectful, and Be Responsible. You can also add something like Be Trustworthy, Be Kind, Do Your Personal Best, or Try your Hardest and Never Give Up. These rules can be started as early as toddlerhood.
Once your overarching household rules are established, come up with all the behavior expectations that fall under each rule category. This is a great exercise to do with your children so they can feel like contributors to the rules as well. Believe it or not, this may actually make them feel more accountable to follow the rules/behavior expectations they created instead of simply just being told by you. For example: Be Safe – Using walking feet, sitting on the couch, not going outside without a parent. Be Respectful – Use kind words, say please and thank you, offer to help. Be Responsible – Do your homework, help with chores, clean up your room, make your bed.
Once everything is established, hold your child accountable for following the rules. When they do not follow them, remind them. When they do follow them, praise them!
-Adapted from Dr. Jeffrey Sprague, University of Oregon, PBIS BEST Behavior Program