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· Because those are the rules.
· Because those are the rules. Just do it.
· Because that’s the policy and you have to fill in the forms.
These phrases are primarily used with children, often in situations where the parent is tired of answering the same question over and over, or the parent believes the child is too young, or unwilling to understand the underlying reason for doing something in a specific way.
Clearly parents have the right, and even obligation to set rules for their children. But is it a good idea to explain to children they must act a certain way with these phrases?
It’s understandable why parents do this, and using phrases like this doesn’t make you a poor parent.
Let’s look at it another way. Will it be beneficial for your children to understand the REASONS why the rules exist? Indeed, yes. By helping your children learn that rules exist for good reasons, and aren’t just arbitrarily made up (by you or others), you teach them some additional thinking skills — to look beyond rules so they understand the WHY of things.
One could also argue that your children DO have a right to know WHY. Not just a “because” answer which really doesn’t say anything.
What about with adults? In the third example above, you will see an example that’s occurs in the workplace. It’s not an explanation, at least the way it’s phrased, You might as well say “because”, or a similar brush-off phrase.
Arbitrary rules annoy adults and mobilize resistance. Adults need to have some proper explanation about the PURPOSE of the policy or rules, or they feel coerced and patronized. Coerced people fight back, both in visible ways, and in less obvious, sneaky ways, sometimes sabotaging the point of the policies or procedures.
Make It Better:
The solution, for both adults and children, is to give a reason for the rules, rather than focus “on the rules”. Here are some examples that suit adults:
· We ask that you complete these forms, so we can have all the information we need to… and so it will take less time to…
· I know it seems arbitrary, but the reason we have these rules is to…
With children it gets trickier, because the age and maturity levels of the specific child need to be taken into account. Complex explanations won’t work for a two year old, but will work with a sixteen year old. Your explanation has to be understandable by the child, so you might need to simplify it. The younger the child, the more simple the explanation.
· Because if you stay up past eight o’clock, you’ll be too sleepy to stay awake at school tomorrow.
· Because we have this rule so that you and your brother don’t get hurt by cars.
· Because school is important, and if you don’t get enough sleep, you’re not going to learn much at school.
Kids are still going to argue. At least you are teaching them that rules have reasons. If, after explaining, you want to go back to the “because it’s our house rules, as I’ve explained”, that’s fine.