- Food. There are ‘everyday’ foods and ‘sometimes’ foods. Healthy eating is encouraged with ‘everyday’ vegetables, fruits, nuts, water, fresh fish/meat any day. However, ‘treats’ such as lollies, wine, chocolates, cream cakes, soft drinks are partaken ‘sometimes’ on special occasions according to the family charter. e.g. Lollie Happy Hour on Fridays @ 3-4pm or soft drink on Saturdays, School Holiday treats such as cream cakes, ice slushies, and Christmas pudding.
- Sleep times. Weekend and holiday bedtimes are more relaxed than weekdays or school days, when a curfew takes effect after the specified time. Exceptions? What if a birthday fell on a Thursday? Does that mean no lollies (not Friday Happy Hour) nor Sprite (not Saturday) nor chocolate mudcake (not School Holidays)? Well, this would be a Festival Special (like Christmas, Thanksgiving, weddings, graduation) where exceptions are acceptable.
- Changing rules. We have rules that we consciously rewrite so that they are current and fitting for us. For example, our safety rule of ‘holding hands when crossing the road’ became obsolete for Jett and Xian in recent times, and has been replaced by ‘staying alert when crossing roads’ to avoid unnecessary accidents that can spring from say, foolish clowning around.
- Charter of Agreement. The Civil Code in our family: we agreed that there was to be no physical violence (hitting, throwing things at others, etc.) or verbal abuse (screaming out expletives, calling names, etc.). Consequence is time out in number of minutes according to years in age. So a 3 year old would get a 3-minute time out for a misdemeanour, while 60-year-old grandma would get an hour! And believe me, this once happened in our household when the child gave grandma a time out for screaming!
- Frequent Good Behaviour Points. FGBP, better known in our family as the Good Behaviour Fairy (GBF) Award, is a system of collected points awarded to one another by members of the family – which is claimable for a product or service (‘goal’ set ahead of time – e.g. a Nintendo Game worth $70 could mean working up 35 points to get it) eg 2 points for taking initiative (say, offering help to sibling so the latter puts points up); 1 point if had to be reminded (say I had to remind a child to brush teeth before bedtime). Conversely, if a behaviour deemed undesirable occurs (a child leaves toys in common living area when agreement is to respect common areas, then 2 points can be removed from FGBP system. Why the GBF? Well, all good fairies (like Santa’s elves) know when you are pouting, sleeping, naughty or nice so inevitably, a special bonus gift can miraculously appear under the pillow from the GBF when FGBP keeps growing. Since it is the good fairy’s gift, the big thrill is there is no necessity to redeem any points in this instance. This system is also inflation-free and GFC protected.
So what rules have you agreed to with your family? What are those rules that you currently live by that are no longer useful? What new rules have you consciously chosen to replace these? How have you partnered with your children to co-create and agree to these current rules?