Should Parents Use Contracts to Shape Teen Behavior?

Should Parents Use Contracts to Shape Teen Behavior?

Home contracts help parents communicate clear behavior guidelines to their teens.  By having teens involved in writing the contract and signing it with the parents/guardians, it increases their accountability and motivation to follow family rules.   

Well-designed home contracts can provide structure and consistency needed for positive youth development.  They can also teach youth that actions have consequences, both good or bad. 

However, typical home and teen contracts stress only avoiding negative or harmful behaviors.  They lack provisions to promote positive behaviors and identity critical to successfully avoiding harmful habits and developing healthy, fit and successful lifestyles among youth.   

That’s why home contracts should be designed to not only help your teen avoid harmful and unhealthy behaviors, but also at the same time foster a protective wellness lifestyle and positive self-identity.  Teen contracts should be used to help teens connect wellness promotion with avoidance of risky behaviors.          

Home contracts can empower parents and guardians to provide positive guidelines and communication for increasing motivation and accountability for their teen’s behaviors, and to set and achieve positive life goals.     

For parents trying to create their own teen contracts, I suggest including the following: 1) recommended list of positive behaviors for the teen to develop a wellness lifestyle and identity, 2) list of harmful behaviors the teen promises to avoid, 3) goal setting to increase healthy behaviors, 4) rewards for avoiding harmful behaviors and increasing healthy habits, 5) consequences for not avoiding harmful behaviors, 6) concluding motivational comments for the teen, and 7) a tip checklist for parents and teens to successfully complete their contract.    

What key concerns do parents and guardians have with their teens behaviors that can serve as topics for creating home contracts?  Here are some examples I came up with: 1) Avoiding Alcohol, Tobacco and Drug Use Problems, 2) Improving School Grades and Attendance, 3) Avoiding Driving Citations and Accidents, 4) Following House Rules, and 5) Practicing Living a Moral Life.   

If you are a parent, what teen behavior topics would you like to include in a home contract?  Send us a message and let us know: 

Check out our Prevention Plus Wellness Teen Contracts, along with our other parent tools and training for promoting active, healthy and drug-free lifestyles for kids. 

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