Standards and Values Contracts

In order to understand the importance of contracting standards and values with your child, one must fully comprehend what standards and values mean. Standards and values define a person’s character and dictate human behavior and ethics. They act as a core belief system that our actions follow in order to maintain self esteem and inner peace. Standards and values are instilled in humans by their parents and other positive influences from a young age, and serve as a compass that directs towards morality, honestly, and integrity. Overall, they are what motivates people to work towards personal goals.

Helping children become aware of their own standards and values will assist them in making good decisions. It is important to stress behaviors that correspond with the values you have exemplified and taught as a parent. A standards and values contracts can be an effective way to reinforce what is important to a child and their family, while gaining their compliance to behave accordingly. They are particularly advantageous for teens who are exposed to numerous situations which may try their decision making skills.

The first part of a standards/values contract must define the standards and values that are important to you and your child. Ask your child what they think it means to have good standards and values. Some important values may include family time, success in school, safety, morality, honesty, and good health. Next, make a list of activities and behaviors that support these values and set high standards of living. This may include actions like following curfew, abstinence from sexual activity, saying no to drugs and alcohol, respecting the property of others, participation in family night, church attendance, and upholding the law. Each behavior should be written in goal format stating agreement. Then the contract must be signed by your child.

In addition, a list of privileges that correspond with following the rules and values stated in a standards/values contract needs to be written down. Plus, you should include a list of consequences for behavior that is not consistent with the standards and values that have been established. These actions can work to motivate your child to exhibit good behavior. Standards/values contracts are an agreement between children and their parents to uphold a code of morals by acting accordingly. They can be a useful tool in developing or modifying your child’s behavior.