Using A Family Contractback
As we head back into the school year, the lazy days of summer fade away, and chaos and disorganization start to creep back in. Keeping the family on task amidst soccer schedules, music lessons and school responsibilities is a struggle we all face. One of the most useful tools for creating order from a chaotic calendar is a family contract.
What is a family contract?
A family contract is a written, signed agreement between parent(s) and child(ren) that outlines specific expectations and tasks to be completed, as well as consequences for failing to uphold those responsibilities.
Why use a contract?
A contract is a non-argumentative way for parents to clearly communicate expectations to children, as well as allowing children input into how they want to complete their tasks and manage their responsibilities.
How to create your own
Call a family meeting. Choose a time when everyone is rested and well-fed, and distractions are minimal. Explain the goal in a positive light, such as “We want/need a system that works and doesn’t change.”
Explain that you are interested in getting everyone’s input into creating systems and routines that will make the school year easier. Categories will vary from family to family, but many contracts center around:
- School performance and homework completion
- Technology use
- Household chores and privileges
Stress the importance of having everyone agree on the terms of the contract. Parents: Allow children room to suggest terms that work best for them. As the parents, you can set parameters, but let your children make the choices. Clearly outline expectations and results, such as “If my homework is completed in a timely manner, then I may use the computer.” Be specific (kids will find loopholes!). Make goals realistic, and create consequences you can stick to. Give children positive feedback for their successes. Post the signed contract in a visible place, such as the refrigerator or by the computer.
As parents, we want to reach our children responsibility and initiative. We also want to give them acceptance, affirmation and appreciation for their successes. The family contract is a way of working together to create a calmer, more harmonious home so that we can spend these precious school years with our children enjoying their journey with them!
Want more family management tips?
Visit imom.com for a variety of free, downloadable family contract templates.
Read “The Busy Mom’s Guide To A Happy, Organized Home”by America’s Family Manager, Kathy Peel.