Don’t Set Rules; Set Values

Teaching children good behaviour is our duty as parents. The most common method parents use to achieve this is setting rules and punishing children when they break them. However, there is a different and better way of achieving this. 

To teach children to behave well, setting rules is not the only way. Adam Grant, father and best-selling author, believes in setting values rather than setting rules. In his book Originals, Grant writes “rules set limits that teach children to adopt a fixed view of the world. Values encourage children to internalise principles for themselves.” 

He says that sometimes just explaining the ‘why’ to children will do the job. With Grant’s 5-year-old, it means talking about why it’s important to listen, rather than demanding attention. With his 7-year-old, this means helping her understand the consequences of staying up too late and trusting her to act responsibly because of it.

Indeed, this is an unconventional approach. But Grant is convinced that “When you give clear explanations for the consequences for different kinds of behaviour, kids are much less likely to rebel.” 

I’m sure you wish you could do what Grant is doing. Like most parents, your struggle is you want immediate results and punishment seems most effective in achieving it. Setting values instead of rules require you to adopt a long term view of parenting and child discipline. With loving patience and persistence, your child will eventually get it and live out the values you have been trying to teach. 

By Parcsen Loke, Family Life Coach, Centre for Fathering. If you wish to contact Parcsen, please make an appointment at: