Most people will agree that teaching responsibility and administering teen discipline are two of the hardest jobs in parenting. Today’s children and teens often feel a sense of entitlement in life, and do not learn the value of hard work. In addition, they are rarely held accountable for their actions anymore, causing a general lack of maturity and motivation. As parents struggle to motivate their children and modify behavior, they may consider using a parent contract. Parent contracts are written agreements between parents and their children that teach where something is given, something is expected of them.
All people are motivated by self interests. This is especially true for those of young ages. Parent contracts serve as a positive motivational tool that allows children and teens to earn the things they desire. Just as they shouldn’t expect that everything is handed to them on a silver platter, parents shouldn’t assume that their children and teens are likely to perform well without a positive motivating factor. Parent contracts specifically state the goals and behaviors that are expected, and the rewards and privileges that can be earned as a result of compliance. Children and teens will learn to take responsibility for themselves, modify behaviors, and appreciate the things they earn as a result of this useful tool.
Although parent contracts are a resource for positive motivation, they may also include consequences for not following through with certain behaviors. Any punishment should be directly related to the offense and clearly stated as the immediate result of each violation. For example, forgetting to make the bed may result in no TV time for the day, or failure to comply with curfew may result in a one week suspension of car privileges. This method of parenting alleviates any ambiguity associated with punishment and teaches kids that they are accountable for the decisions they make. However, be sure to present parent contracts in a positive way to gain cooperation. Children and teens should view them as a way to earn their desires and sign the contract to show agreement.