The Family Foundation is the first tab in our Family Notebook. It serves as the foundation for how you want your family and household to function. We have there sections within this tab: the Mission Statement, Family Rules, and Reward Charts.
Just as corporations have mission statements that define their company, families can use mission statements to state their priorities. You can then refer to it when making difficult decisions, or to overcome challenges. If you’d like to, you can display it somewhere in your home.
The mission statement should be short, about 4-8 sentences. When writing the statement, you should meet with your family (or just your spouse if your children are young) to define your values. When we were writing ours, I tried to think back to advice that I had received about maintaining a strong family. The important thing to remember is that the mission statement should be basic and simple.
You can find examples of family mission statements here: http://home-school-coach.com/family-mission-statement-more-examples/
Like the Mission Statement, your family rules should be simple and concise. You do not have to be elaborate, detailed, or even completely thorough. These may change as your family changes, which is great. It would also be good to display these in the home, and refer to them frequently. All the children in the house, of an appropriate age, should be able to state what the family rules are, and what they mean.
Our family has 4 rules: Tell the truth, practice integrity, don’t whine, and have a good attitude. Our children know what these rules mean because we discuss them frequently. We consistently enforce them, and our children understand that we take them very seriously.
Here are some ways to display the family rules in your house:
We started using a reward chart with our three year-old about a year ago, and it has been one of our most powerful parenting tools. It helps us reinforce good behavior, and lets her learn to evaluate her own behavior. We change the chart about every three months, depending on what we are trying to work on with her. Every night we go over the chart before bed and she gets a smiley face in the box if she did well on that task. It’s important not to be too lenient, so that the importance of earning a smiley face is compromised. Of course, it’s also important not to be too strict because the goal is to make your children feel proud of their good behavior.
At the end of the week, we count how many smiley faces our daughter earned. If she earned enough (we went with 42), she gets to pick somewhere for us to go that weekend.
Adjust this as to what works best for your family. We have done a tier system with the weekly reward (the more smiley faces, the greater the reward at the end of the week), used stickers instead of smiley faces, and adjusted the number of good behaviors to reward. Practice using this, and see what works best for your family. Don’t forget to add it to your family notebook!
Here is our reward chart: Reward Chart