Grandma’s Rule

The easiest rule in parenting that I have ever found over the last 30 years of researching

Barbara Unell, Author

Barbara Unell, Author

and practicing positive discipline is called “Grandma’s Rule”.  I love to write about it, talk about it, and explain it to families every chance I can because it makes life easier for everyone!

When you teach your children to follow “Grandma’s Rule”, you teach them to follow directions, as you also learn how to motivate them to do what you ask without nagging or threatening.

Here’s how it works:

Say to your child: “When you have done ‘x’ (what you want your child to do), then you may do ‘y’, (what your child wants to do).” It’s that simple!

What you are doing is teaching your child to make this agreement with you:

  • When she does what you ask of her (put toys away, get her socks on, or get in the car, for example), then she may do what she wants (read a story or go to Grandma’s and Grandpa’s, for example.)

Grandma’s Rule is best stated in the positive…so make sure that you don’t say, “If you don’t do ‘x”, then ‘y’ will happen (he will have to go to his room, get a toy taken away, etc.).”  You want your child to agree to do what you ask, instead of threatening him with punishment if he doesn’t do so.

I love thinking back about the time when I began to use Grandma’s Rule with my own children when they were toddlers. Now that they are all grown up, I still like to use this rule…but this time, I use it on myself! It motivates me to complete a work project that my boss wants me to do, because I then will do something fun when the work is done—take a walk, call a friend, or read a good book, for example.

Therefore, I’d love to re-name this Rule, “The Everyone’s Happy Rule”, because it is a tool that helps both adults and children get to do what they want to do, while taking responsibility for work that may not be as fun as play.  And THAT makes everyone happy!

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Written by Barbara Unell, Author

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