the behavior contract

Quite some time ago I wrote and ran a teen pregnancy series that touched on various aspects on topic, all written from my first-hand experience.  Within the Lives Less Broken post (the second in the series), I mentioned the behavior contract I created when my oldest child was starting high school.  I had a number of requests to write a separate post on that behavior contract and I fully intended to do so in a timely manner.  Oh, but the best laid plans…

Here we are, five months later and I am, finally, bringing that post to fruition.  So, without further ado, here is a scan of the original contract I wrote in 2007.



I fully intend to implement this same procedure when my next one starts high school this coming July.  There will be some revisions, of course.  For instance, not ALL social media sites are against the rules.  Also, I’ve done away with the poker chip reward.  It was too tedious a system to maintain.  In its place, I take the older girls to movies, lunch, or out shopping every so often, just the three of us.  In hindsight, I wish I hadn’t included that portion in the contract.  Not because I want to skimp on rewards, but because the behavior contract was meant to be a reference, not a dangling carrot.  It was meant to clearly and concisely state my expectations.  Any subsequent rewards are to be icing on the cake, not expected compensation.

I showed you mine; now tell me yours.  What bullet points would be added or omitted from your versions?

7 Replies to “the behavior contract”

  1. I like this!

    I don’t have teenagers yet. However, my 10 yo daughter is very sensitive and overreacts sometimes to our discipline. So I’ve had to learn to expect that and help her (and me) through it. So I might include some encouraging language that allows for discussion of parental attitudes and consequences. Not negotiation, but assurance that she can respectfully express her own frustrations with a situation or a facet of our relationship within the context of behavior discussions. Does that make sense? We’ve just learned that she needs to be able to say she disagrees with us, or thinks we are misunderstanding her, or whatever (again, in a respectful way; not “You guys are so mean” or “these rules are so dumb” or anything like that) to reach a place where she recognizes our parental authority is not arbitrary and random, but reasoned and intentional. She called my husband out on his patience and anger not too long ago–and it was totally accurate and appropriate. He needed to know how she felt and do something about it to more effectively discipline. I don’t want my kids to obey out of fear, I want them to obey out of respect (with a healthy amount of regard for consequences of course).

  2. Remember your comment on my blog the other day about Cate and the bumpy ride we are in for….I wish I had a contract like this for her now, LOL. However, I don’t think her 5 year old mind would “get” most of this! But, as I replied back to you…that bumpy ride has already begun and I just cringe thinking about it getting even worse. I often question my parenting when she acts the way she does, but then I have to remind myself that I am a good mother, but she is just testing the waters….those waters can just be mighty stormy sometimes. Oy, vey. I may have to have you on speed dial come 10 years from now!

    After meeting your girls in person, I have to tell you that they were probably two of the most gracious, loving, supportive, and well-mannered teens I have met in a VERY LONG TIME!!!! That is just proof of your amazing example. Bravo, Darcie, Bravo!

  3. What a wonderful idea. Makes me almost want to have another child just so I can try something like this….NOT!!!!!!
    But it really is the perfect way to keep communications open between parents and teenagers. Darci, what a wonderful st of parents your children have. Very lucky

  4. I think I am a bit late on this…I wish I would have done it before! But I will do it for the 10 year girl for sure. Please keep this blog up until then so I can refer back to it :-)

  5. Thank you for sharing this! I’ve wondered about your contract ever since you mentioned it several months ago.

    I really like the idea and may follow your lead when that time comes.

    One observation: I noticed that you don’t have anything in the contract about dating or sexuality. Do you have rules/expectations in place for those areas? If so, why did you choose to exclude them from the contract? I would love to read a follow-up post on that topic.

    Also: What chores is a high-schooler in your home responsible for? Do your younger children also have daily chores to complete? I’d like to read a post w/ your thoughts on that as well.

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