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Rules are meant to benefit students

August 15, 2013|Lisa Prejean

Now that the carefree days of summer are waning, students will soon be faced with routines, schedules and rules.

Most students thrive on routines and deal with schedules, but when it comes to rules, well, they would just as well make up their own.

I was reminded of this recently when I was revising a handbook and a family member suggested getting student input. That’s actually not a bad idea, and it is what I have been doing in a roundabout way for the last 10 years or so. I have seen rules implemented, rules revised and rules abolished.

If a rule doesn’t work or seems too complicated to follow, it just frustrates students and parents alike.

Why not revise what doesn’t work and keep what does?

Some teenagers would say that they’d rather not have any rules, but they are typically the first ones to complain if their stuff gets moved or borrowed or damaged. Rules have a purpose, and most are put in place because someone complained or someone got hurt or someone had the foresight to be proactive.

As parents, we need to help our children understand that rules are in place for their benefit, to keep them safe and healthy.

Sometimes all it takes is understanding the background behind a rule, and a student will acquiesce.

For example, why is it important to be quiet when a teacher or a coach is speaking? A student or player who talks will miss directions, distract others and not know what is going on. In addition, the extra chatter wastes everybody’s time.

This is also a matter of consideration. Students who struggle with this rule should be asked to think about how it would feel if everyone talked during their presentations. Most people don’t like to instruct an inattentive audience.

Or, how about this one: Students need to have a physician’s note when they have been out sick or missed school to visit a doctor’s office. Just as parents can’t miss work because they don’t feel like going, students can’t miss school without a reason for that absence. The doctor’s-note requirement assures that there is accountability. When a person knows that he will be held accountable for his actions, he will be more likely to make the right decisions.

As students struggle to understand rules, parents can help by teaching them how to respond to a rule they think is unfair or unreasonable. Working to implement change is an important part of a teen’s maturing process.

It will also help them deal with the many routines, schedules and rules that they will face throughout life.

Lisa Tedrick Prejean writes a weekly column for The Herald-Mail’s Family page. Send email to her at lprejean@schurz.com.

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