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How to Write a Teen & Parent Contract

by Kay Ireland

Whether for driving privileges, behavior around the house or grades in school, a teen and parent contract is an excellent way to be explicit about expectations and consequences. Once you've created a contract with your teen, the terms and consequences for breaching your agreement should be clear. Sitting down with your teen and writing up a contract that you both can agree to might help you avoid arguments and conflict in the future.

Schedule a time with your teen that is free of distractions. Ditch the cell phones and focus entirely on the task of discussion and debate with your teen so you both feel completely heard and you're both engaged in the idea of the contract.

List your terms for your teen's behavior in the contract first. Your contract can entail anything from schoolwork and grades to showing respect around the home. A parent and child contract shouldn't be too extensive -- your teen might feel repressed by all of the rules. Instead, stick to the most important terms, such as no phones in the car, sticking to curfew or keeping grades up to a certain average.

Ask your teen for his input during the creation of the contract. If you say that he needs to be home by 10 p.m. and he argues for 11 p.m., consider splitting the difference and setting the contract for 10:30 p.m. This helps your teen know that the process is fair.

Include the consequences for breaking the contract as part of the terms. Discussing appropriate consequences for a contract breach helps your teen understand the importance of adhering to the terms you've created. Ensure that the punishment fits the crime -- if your teen misses curfew, it's moved up by 30 minutes, or if he drives with too many people in the car, he loses car privileges for two weekends.

Put all of the terms in writing and ensure that you both sign the agreement and place it somewhere that you'll see it and refer to it often.

Revisit the terms of the contract as necessary. Behaviors, privileges and consequences that are important one year might change. Or, if your teen has difficulty adhering to the contract, you might need to draw up one with fewer privileges. Your contract should be a way to diffuse conflict. If it only creates more arguments, you might need to tweak the terms for something more realistic for the two of you.

Resources

  • 3 Keys to Keeping Your Teen Alive: Lessons for Surviving the First Year of Driving; Anne Marie Hayes
  • I'm Not Your Friend, I'm Your Parent: Helping Your Children Set the Boundaries They Need-- and Really Want; E. D. Hill

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.

Photo Credits

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