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Teenage Punishment Contracts

by Kay Ireland

While you may hope that your teen always makes the right choices, no teen is perfect. Your child might test boundaries, break rules and occasionally make poor decisions, for which he may require punishment. By working together to create a punishment contract, your teen can know exactly what behavior is expected and what happens when he doesn't meet your expectations, resulting in more consistent, fair discipline for your growing teen.

Purpose

Teen punishment contracts act as a way to deliver consistent discipline with minimal conflict. A contract lays down the rules clearly and in writing, which can help reduce a selective memory from your teen, notes MayoClinic.com. When you both agree to certain terms concerning behavior and punishment, there are fewer arguments over expectations and the consequences for when your teen steps out of line. Contracts allow you to be specific and to create punishments when you feel calm and reasonable, rather than when you're upset and angry after your teen misbehaves.

Terms

A punishment contract should contain terms for both your expectations and the consequences rendered when those consequences are not met, clearly written and agreed upon by both you and your teen. While it's up to you to decide which terms to include in your contract, some applicable items include retaining driving privileges, maintaining a specific grade point average, using technology or helping with chores around the house. Specificity is the key, notes the Fairfax County Public Schools Department of Special Services -- the terms should be very clear as to both your expectations and the consequences.

Input

When you're ready to make a punishment contract, consult your teen's input before you ask him to sign to the terms. Having your teen talk to you about your expectations and ideas for consequences helps your teen feel more like a teammate and less like your prisoner. If your teen wants driving privileges, for instance, you can talk about rules for curfew and distractions while driving and then come up with a suitable consequence -- like having privileges revoked for a week -- if your teen breaks the rules. By consulting your teen and getting his input, he's more likely to agree to the terms and working together.

Enforcement

Not every rule should be set in stone -- some terms can be reviewed and changed at a later date. Tell your teen that if he exceeds expectations, you can revisit the contract to give him more privileges in the future, such as a later curfew for adhering to his current one. Enforcement of the contract is vital after both you and your teen agree to the terms. A contract can't work if you neglect to render the punishment stipulated in the contract when your teen breaks a rule or falls short of your expectations. By being consistent with the terms, your teen knows exactly what to expect from you.

About the Author

Kay Ireland specializes in health, fitness and lifestyle topics. She is a support worker in the neonatal intensive care and antepartum units of her local hospital and recently became a certified group fitness instructor.

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