Child Contracts

In order to lead cooperation and success while parenting your child, consider a child contract for best results. Child behavior contracts are a formal agreement between a child and their parents. Written down and signed by both parties, they take the emphasis away from punishment for poor behavior, and place it on motivation and earning privileges. One of the major problems with attempting to change a child’s behavior, is that the child hasn’t agreed to cooperate before instruction has begun. Child contracts eliminate this problem, while motivating a child to meet goals, and teaching them accountability for their actions.

The words “because I said so” hold little merit when attempting to get a positive response from a child. Appealing to their self interest is a much more effective way to motivate them and promote good decision making skills. Children will not learn accountability for themselves, if they are on only held accountable to you. However, the key to developing a successful child contract is to keep it positive. It should be based on accomplishments and earnings, rather than failures and punishments. This does not mean that a child must be rewarded with ice cream every time they make their bed or do something that should be expected of them. Rather, a child contract stipulates that all privileges must be earned. Whether it is watching television for an hour daily, receiving an allowance, or getting new clothes, an expected behavior need to be met in order to receive the reward.

In order to create a child contract, you will first want to communicate with your child about what is important to them. Whether it is getting to redecorate their room, purchasing a new video game, or spending personal time on the computer, knowing what they want will give you a chance to discuss how they can earn it. Let them know that the purpose of the meeting is to talk about how he/she can earn rewards. Discuss positive behaviors that you would like to see from your child such as completing homework on time, doing household chores, or asking for permission before seeing friends. However, remember that it is important to keep child contracts simple. You may even wish to use child behavior charts , or chore charts, to keep track of the positive behaviors. You will not want to target every behavioral issue at the same time. Write up a contract that outlines the details of each behavior and reward that both you and your child agree on. Both parties should sign the agreement before it is enforced. Child contracts can be a positive tool in parenting, when they are used correctly.