Forming the Less Important Rules
Take heart — you'll have more than just three rules in your house. Revisit your rule list and look at the items you marked with a star, the “Less Important Rules.” Has anything new come forward that you think is more important than what you've written down? Have you decided that you can live without something in the “Less Important” category? If so, it's okay to make changes now, before you add these rules.
As you did with the Most Important Rule list, select consequences that are age-appropriate, effective, and match the crime. Several consequences that you've been using for violations of the most important rules may still apply; you may not choose accompanying your child to school for something on this list, but you probably will still find time out, loss of screen time, and grounding effective.
Enforce these rules just as diligently as you did the Most Important Rules. Just because they're less important doesn't mean they're up for debate. All it means is that you're breaking this process into a few manageable steps instead of overwhelming your family with too many changes, which would likely result in more defiance.
Once you have selected the consequences, write them out clearly as you did the first time. Your list may sound like this: “No yelling within two feet of another person's face. If you do, you will sit in the hallway for fifteen minutes,” or “Be home by 5:00 on school nights and 9:00 on Fridays, Saturdays, and the day before a holiday. If you're late even one minute, you are grounded the next Friday or Saturday.”
When to Announce Them
Your child is ready for the new batch of rules when he has been complying steadily with the first batch for awhile. For some kids, that's a few days, for others, a couple of weeks. It's probably longer for kids with more severe defiance. What's more important than a specific measure of time is that your child's behavior has become a habit. If your child is automatically obeying the first batch of rules and you are using the consequences much, much less, then you're ready … as long as you have been regularly rewarding and praising these positive behaviors. If you haven't, you need to develop that habit as well, or your child will resist the new rules — it will seem like nothing's ever good enough for you, so he might as well give up now.
Once you think your child is ready, prime the pump before talking about new rules. Casually mention that you're so proud of how he's been doing with X and Y, and that you're thinking it might be time to talk about making changes to Z. That gives him a heads-up that there'll be another conversation soon. Next, choose a calm moment and show him the new list. Say, “There are some things you're doing that are disruptive to our family and can work against you in the long run. I love you and our family too much to let them continue. Here are some new rules to stop those disruptive and harmful behaviors.” Read the child the list, or have an older child read it himself. Offer to answer any questions, and post the list in a conspicuous place. Tell your child that after he makes a habit of complying with these rules, he'll be able to help you write the rules next time around. Expect your child to test these rules and perhaps even relapse for a few days. Just be patient and stick to your plan.