Explaining Why Rules Are Necessary

Behavior and Classroom Management Strategies for Teachers
Photo © 2008 Flickr, Loozrboy

Sometimes children can seem like broken records - constantly questioning directions and asking, "Why should I?" While this won't likely solve all of your problems, one way to cut down on the questions is to help students understand that rules are in place for a reason.

To promote fairness. To protect group values. To help people live, learn, and work together. To keep people safe. To promote clean fun.

If the values behind rules are clear to your students, your students may have an easier time making responsible decisions and recognizing that they can trust your judgement - you do, after all, have their best interest in mind. 

Perhaps the best way to help children see the need for rules, especially in community situations, is to invite them to think about what would happen if there were no rules. Use one (or all) of the scenarios below, inviting your students to consider what would happen if...

  • ...there were no traffic laws.
  • ...there were no lifeguards at the water park.
  • ...there were no referees in football.

Along with mass chaos, these situations would breed unfairness and perhaps even injury. Traffic laws help cars traverse the road in an orderly way. Without traffic lights, signs, and other expressed laws, accidents would be more prevalent. Lifeguards make sure swimmers can enjoy the water safely - they watch to ensure that all swimmers have cleared the area before allowing someone else to use the slide or diving board - and also make sure those outside of the pool are safe. Referees ensure that teams play fairly. In the absence of referees, players could potentially sustain injury, teams could have unfair advantages, and the game would cease to be fun.

You might also consider inviting your kiddos to participate in a scenario where they find out how hard it is to to complete an activity without rules. For example, divide students into groups, providing them with a new game - the catch, don't include the rules (and don't tell them what you're doing). After the exercise, have your students discuss how they felt and what they did when they realized they had no directions.

Understanding that a good rule always has a reason, may just help your students make responsible decisions in the classroom!