Guidelines for Contracting with Your Child

Three equally important reasons for establishing a contract with a child

  • Change a recurring behavior
  • Repair the parent/child relationship
  • Reestablish parental authority
Prior to meeting with your child
  1. Select one and only one reasonable goal.
  2. State the goal in a positive way.
  3. Decide how many times the child has to fulfill the goal in order to receive reinforcement at the end of the week. Make sure the number of times is realistic so that your child can be successful the first week.
While planning the contract with your child
  1. Negotiate parent and child daily and weekly responsibilities.
  2. Negotiate a reinforcement with your child that he or she will get at the end of the week if the contract is fulfilled (a reasonable privilege or a small item).
  3. You and the child should sign the contract in a business-like manner.
  4. Agree on where the contract and tally sheet should be kept.
While the contract is on-going
  1. Provide no warnings or reprimands.
  2. Check the goal at the specified time. When achieved, place a sticker or checkmark on the tally sheet; otherwise, leave the space blank.
  3. Acknowledge your child when the daily or weekly goal is met. Use optimal statements whenever possible.
  4. Be sure to provide the child with the weekly reinforcement if the week’s goal is met.