As your teenager becomes more independent, it is a good idea to lay down the rules you expect your teen to follow. Creating a contract provides guidelines for your teen to follow in order to prevent or stop undesirable behavior. Contracts establish rules and help develop clear communication so parents and teens are held accountable for their actions. Writing down rules is a good practice because the details of verbal discussions can be forgotten or misunderstood.
Find a time when you and your teenager can sit down to write out the contract together. It’s important to get your teen’s input so he feels involved. Your teenager might feel a greater sense of responsibility to follow the rules if he helped develop them.
Create a list of expectations for your teenager. Include rules such as curfews, homework time, school performance, cell phone use and chores. The contract should be designed to help your child make good choices, so keep the expectations reasonable and short. A long list of rules can be overwhelming.
Make a list of consequences if the rules in the contract are broken. Some consequence examples include grounding or phone privileges being limited or taken away. Ask your teen for suggestions so he feels a sense of responsibility.
Include rewards that recognize your teen’s good behavior. Keep track of your teen’s progress in following the rules with check marks, one-on-one discussions or another tracking system that works for your family. Some reward examples include later curfews, car privileges or a raise in allowance.
Set a time limit on the contract such as three months. Your teen will be more likely to agree to the contract if he knows there is room for changes once trust is established. Sign the contract to signify commitment once you and your teen have agreed upon the contract.