How to Discourage Kids from Being “Rule Police”
By Nadine Briggs
As parents, we want our children to follow rules and guidelines for their safety and well-being. However, sometimes children can become overly concerned with enforcing rules on others and become what is known as “rule police.” This can be especially problematic when it comes to rigid thinkers – children who have a hard time adapting to changes or situations where rules may be unclear or difficult to follow. It creates a social issue since kids do not like to be told what to do by peers.
While it’s important to teach our kids to follow rules, it’s equally important to teach them balance and moderation. Here are some tips on how to discourage kids from being rule police and help rigid thinkers become more flexible:
Policing is Not Their Job:
If your child is consistently enforcing rules on others in a way that is causing conflict or tension, it may be time to set some limits. Let them know that while rules are important, it’s not their job to enforce them on others all the time. Encourage them to let adults handle situations where rules are being broken. Exceptions to this are if peers are being dangerous or bullying others.
Model Balanced Behavior:
Children often learn by example, so it’s important to model balanced behavior yourself. Show your child that while rules are important, it’s also essential to be flexible and make exceptions when necessary.
Help your child understand that other people may have different experiences and circumstances that affect how they follow rules. Encourage empathy by asking questions like “How do you think they feel when you tell them what to do?” and “What would you do if you were in their shoes and they were telling you to follow the rules?”
Teach Problem-Solving Skills:
Help your child learn how to approach situations where rules may be unclear or difficult to follow. Teach them problem-solving skills like negotiation, compromise, and collaboration. This can help them learn to find solutions that work for everyone involved.
Praise Positive Behavior:
When you see your child demonstrating balanced behavior and showing empathy towards others, praise them for their efforts. This can help reinforce positive behavior and encourage them to continue practicing it.
By using these tips, parents can help their children become responsible rule-followers without becoming overly rigid or inflexible. Rule policing can have long term social implications so it’s important to address it, however, understand that teaching social concepts takes time and patience.
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