Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Umbrella Rules

I am in the middle of an eight week parenting course called Evergreen Parenting and loving every moment of it -and especially the fruits I see in our household since we started implementing many of the principles!

The course deals a lot with parenting your child according to their unique temperament and has been an amazing eye-opener for me. But most of us in this specific group have toddlers and we all appreciated it when, during the first session, we were given a very practical tool for dealing with discipline issues: we were encouraged to sit down with our children and create a set of Umbrella Rules for our household. At first I thought Sweetpea would be far too young to meaningfully participate, but this sweet three-and-a-half-year old knocked my socks off with her insight and contribution!

We had a lovely family meeting at the kitchen table where the Dad and I showed the little ones an umbrella and chatted to them about its use - to protect us from the elements! We then talked about how rules can also protect us, and together we came up with five basic rules that are appropriate - and necessary - for our family at this point in time. The rules are really super-simple and basically focuses on obedience and courtesy. They are:

1. There is a time for everything.
2. We talk nicely to each other.
3. We take care of our things.
4. We have good manners.
5. We help each other.

(A family with older children can use a more symbolic picture and the rules will obviously look very different from ours.)

We wrote the rules down on the five sections of an umbrella I had drawn beforehand, and added a simple picture as visual clues for the not-yet-reading members of the family.  Our Umbrella Rules hang low on a prominent wall in our living room and it is a fantastic tool for guiding the tots in the way of correct behaviour! Sweetpea knows the rules by heart thanks to the little picture clues and responds beautifully when she is reminded of a certain rule.

(You can also order a ready-made Umbrella Rules via the Evergreen Parenting website - click here.)


  1. Love this idea...simple but effective...the way the best parenting tools usually are! :)

  2. Works so well for us - thanks for your comment!

  3. Love this. We now have a three year old. Life is changing a little. Now when we tell him not to do things he says, "why?" I was thinking we needed some "house rules" just to keep things consistant between my husband and me. I may need a parenting course geared to mothers of three year olds to help me survive this year as well!!!!

  4. Hi Jackie! Oooh, I SO know what you mean - the why's kicked in about a month ago here with us and it is driving me up the walls sometimes!! I am really enjoying this course, though, and my favourite part is hearing other parents share their ideas for coping with discipline issues, or just parenting in general. One of the ladies mentioned last week that they have 'Rough Dancing Time' in the late afternoon - just one loud, fast, fun song to which they dance like no one is watching. We tried this here this week and have been having a blast - the perfect way to spend a little of that pent-up energy that can get out of control around supper time!


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