YOU NEED A HOME RULES CONTRACT? NEGOTIATING RULES WITH YOUR TEEN
Tania K. Cowling
children hit the teen years, it's a natural desire to spread their
wings. But as teens become independent, they face increasing challenges,
from driving cars to attending parties where alcohol or drugs might
be a part of the scene. It can be a confusing time for adolescents,
but by setting limits teens can be helped in maneuvering their way
through this challenging phase.
limits for teens can be a tricky business. Just think, a teenager
is on the verge of adulthood and preparing for life on his or her
own. Teens may not be too interested in pleasing parents they have
their own views. On the other hand, studies tell us that teens need
and want limits because they aren't yet fully capable of making wise
choices in every aspect of their lives.
can parents expect? As caretakers of our teens, we often notice that
adolescents are involved in new behaviors and wanting to try new things.
Parents may not be comfortable with or like the way their child dresses
or acts; however, many of these behaviors are completely normal and
not a cause for concern. These behaviors are considered żnormal for
concerning clothes, hairstyles, and music.
- Occasionally coming home 30 minutes to an
- Spending more time alone.
- Sharing less openly with parents or family members.
- Spending more time with friends.
natural part of becoming a teen is to become involved in some risk
taking. Some risks are potentially dangerous even though they are
completely normal. Examples include the following activities:
- Dangerous bike riding.
- Taking dares that are physically
dangerous (such as testing ice on a newly frozen lake or river).
- Taking rides from strangers or someone who has
- Experimenting with drugs, alcohol, or sex.
- Minor acts of vandalism.
parents would like to protect their children and see them reach adulthood
without serious problems. For good reason, parents fear the troubles
of teenagers they read about in the newspapers. It's reassuring that
the majority of teens never become involved in these major problems.
What can parents do? Caregivers can steer adolescents in the right
direction by knowing where they are, what they are doing and whom they are with. It's important
to keep track of teens; especially the younger and less experienced
are ways parents can monitor their teenager:
- Together decide on a few important rules curfew times and off-limits
places and activities.
- Ask your teen to call or leave a note if
- Develop consequences to expect when they break rules
(be sure to follow through).
- Build a positive relationship by spending fun time
with your teen.
- Let your child know you are interested in his/her activities.
- Listen with an open mind when your teen talks
about problems or concerns.
- Get to know your child's friends and their parents.
- Encourage involvement in school and extra-curricular
activities and clubs or organizations.
you and your teen are having a hard time with a family ground rules,
it may be time to sit down together to negotiate limits and expectations.
You may even want to lay these rules out on paper in the form of a
contract. The contract should include really basic and important rules
to provide for the safety of the teenager and the well being of the
family and it should state clear consequences for any broken rules.
an example of a contract:
Home Rules Contract For ___________________.
A. (list rule) -------------------------------
B. (list rule)
C. (list rule) List as many
rule categories as needed!
of family members:
must be signed by all family members involved in contract)
is an example of a contract rule:
Rule: Teen is expected to perform
all assigned chores in a satisfactory manner, according to the standards
set by parents.
Consequence: Teen will not be allowed
any privileges until required chores are completed, including TV,
radio, computer, having friends visit or going out with friends.
Privilege: Teen will maintain access
to all privileges of the house, including watching TV, using the computer,
having friends visit, and going out with friends.
can use this concept with rules involving curfews, chores, school
behavior and grades, smoking, telephone use, computer use, use of
the car, alcohol/drug abuse, and expression of anger, violence, including
help keep our kids safe. Negotiating those rules shows respect for
our teens and helps them learn about making decisions on their own.
The discussions we have with them can teach our adolescents a lot
about looking ahead at the consequences of their actions and how to
make good decisions. Furthermore, it tells them not only that we value
their opinions, but that we're still their parents and we love them
enough to have rules and expectations that help keep them safe.