Why children need rules, boundaries and routines


Parenting in a way that keeps rules and boundaries alive but doesn’t kill your relationship with your children!

It’s about how we encourage the rules, boundaries and routines in our families that is important.


The words we use, the tone of our voice, the amount of rules versus the flexibility of the boundaries.


Too many rules are not good                                     Too few rules are not good

Too rigid boundaries are not good.                            Too floppy boundaries are not good

Too many changes are not good                                Too few changes are not good


Life needs to be reasonably predictable for children. They like to know what will be happening – even if they don’t know what day of the week it is!

I don’t know about you but I like to know what’s going to happen in advance…at least to a reasonable level! You can refer to my blog post on “Helping out Grows Healthy Kids” for ideas about kids routines and jobs.

It is important to keep children of all ages informed in an age appropriate way.

This helps with two vital factors:


  1. That they feel a part of something, and they get the message that they are important (you value me because you told me and this means you are able to ‘keep me in mind’)
  1. That they feel secure in a predictable world – psychological safety


We know that children who grow up in unpredictable circumstances – similar to war zones – which many children experience even in their own homes in NZ, have different activity levels in their brains, and this impacts in many different ways.

On the other hand – not enough changes….what does that do?

I remember one of my children getting a bit upset one day, that we had said something was going to happen and then we changed our mind.

Sometimes we just shouldn’t tell our kids until we have decided for sure….

BUT then sometimes they do need to know that things can change and that is OK (even if it is sometimes a little disappointing or confusing).

What they learn through this process is RESILIENCE!

The power of resilience is not to be underestimated!!

However, if you change things too much it’s not resilience that they develop….. it’s lack of trust. A whole different matter altogether!


All children benefit from consistent rules, routines and boundaries which for the greater part are maintained.

We don’t need to be unreasonably rigid with rules but we do need to be firm but fair. Not too many, not too few.


Remember – routines, structure and predictability will be the building blocks for a strong foundation for positive and successful child behaviour and coping skills later in their childhood and adolescence.

Chaos, constant change, unstructured, unpredictable family environments are more likely to breed behaviour problems, family relationship problems and emotional/mental health problems such as anxiety.

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