I'm asked often what 'house rules' I have for my foster kids. I have different rules set for different age groups, but the youngest age group has the least-complicated set of rules. So I was going to start with their list, and each week following give another list of rules for another age group. Younger child need the sense of stability that comes from having rules. With kids 1 to 5, I keep our rules very simple. We have a set of rules we follow each day, and rewards for following those rules. The rules are fairly simple...
-Brush your teeth: If they are old enough to do it themselves, I remind them to. If they are young enough to need help, I'll help them. We do this every day. Our reward is a chewy vitamin (which ultimately seems like candy to them- but knocks out two necessary activities at one time).
-Comb your hair: I always brush or comb their hair for them, but if they sit down and are patient while I get it done, every day they can earn points to earn other things. If they comb their hair every day for a week they can earn 'hair color'- I use 'hair chalk' and color their hair any color they want. They really love this and it works well! If they comb their hair every day for a month, they can earn a new hat or headband (or other hair accessory).
-Get dressed: Once they are old enough, I let my kids pick out their own clothes and dress themselves as they can. As long as they do it, when I remind them, they can earn points each day. Every 12 points earns them a new clothing item of their choice from a store when we go shopping!
-No hitting, kicking, or biting: Each week I have a small tub of prize toys that I pull out (small vinyl animals, little stuffed animals, coloring books, art supplies, etc). As long as my kids have not hit, kicked, bit, punched, or physically hurt someone in the last week, they get to pick out a prize!
-No saying bad words: For each day my kids don't say a bad word they get a point. After 10 points they get to buy a new book of their choice.
-Be nice: Being nice covers everything. No calling other people names. No teasing animals. Share your things. Just be nice. This 'being nice' is lumped in with our 'hitting, kicking, and biting' rule. As long as they are nice, they will get a prize at the end of the week.
-No stealing: We have specific consequences for this one. If they steal something from a store or someone, they are required to bring it back and apologize. If they steal from me, they have to draw me a 'sorry picture' and return the item.