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This page may appear to be for parents only, but I urge parents to share with your children the information below. It is my belief that if your children know and understand what their parents are expected to do for them, they may be more likely to accept what their parents tell them. There are no guarantees that any of this information will work in your family, but you don't know until you try.
Have you ever been in a public place and been annoyed by a parent who allows their children to run wild?
Have you thought to yourself, if they were my children I would ____________________?
Do you sometimes want to spank the parent because they don't take charge of their children and tell them not to do something?
Can you think of a situation where you were tempted to take over and discipline another parent's children because you were tired of being disturbed by the children?
For some families it appears as though the children are in charge. The questions above are an example of parents who may not know what to do or they could be afraid to tell their children NO. In either case the information listed on this website, especially this page, may help. There will be some parents that no information or guidance will get them to take charge and parent their children.
Toward the bottom of the page is a Home Rules Contract, also called Family Code of Conduct. This contract is only an example for parents and their children as to the content and structure of the Home Rules Contract. You may need to add to or take away from its content. This Home Rules Contract (can also be used as a School Rules Contract with the necessary changes. You can use separate contracts or rearrange the Home Rules Contract to include rules of behavior at school. If you do something that is proactive, there is less chance you will need to do something that is reactive.
10 Tips for Raising Children of Character by Dr. Kevin Ryan
It is one of those essential facts of life that raising good children--children of character--demands time and attention. While having children may be ¡§doing what comes naturally,¡¨ being a good parent is much more complicated. Here are ten tips to help your children build sturdy characters:
1. Put parenting first. This is hard to do in a world with so many competing demands. Good parents consciously plan and devote time to parenting. They make developing their children's character their top priority.
2. Review how you spend the hours and days of your week. Think about the amount of time your children spend with you. Plan how you can weave your children into your social life and knit yourself into their lives.
3. Be a good example. Face it: human beings learn primarily through modeling. In fact, you can¡¦t avoid being an example to your children, whether good or bad. Being a good example, then, is probably your most important job.
4. Develop an ear and an eye for what your children are absorbing. Children are like sponges. Much of what they take in has to do with moral values and character. Books, songs, TV, the Internet, and films are continually delivering messages, moral and immoral, to our children. As parents we must control the flow of ideas and images that are influencing our children.
5. Use the language of character. Children cannot develop a moral compass unless people around them use the clear, sharp language of right and wrong.
6. Punish with a loving heart. Today, punishment has a bad reputation. The results are guilt-ridden parents and self-indulgent, out-of-control children. Children need limits. They will ignore these limits on occasion. Reasonable punishment is one of the w ays human beings have always learned. Children must understand what punishment is for and know that its source is parental love.
7. Learn to listen to your children. It is easy for us to tune out the talk of our children. One of the greatest things we can do for them is to take them seriously and set aside time to listen.
8. Get deeply involved in your child's school life. School is the main event in the lives of our children. Their experience there is a mixed bag of triumphs and disappointments. How they deal with them will influence the course of their lives. Helping our children become good students is another name for helping them acquire strong character.
9. Make a big deal out of the family meal. One of the most dangerous trends in America is the dying of the family meal. The dinner table is not only a place of sustenance and family business but also a place for the teaching and passing on of our values. Manners and rules are subtly absorbed over the table. Family mealtime should communicate and sustain ideals that children will draw on throughout their lives.
10. Do not reduce character education to words alone. We gain virtue through practice. Parents should help children by promoting moral action through self-discipline, good work habits, kind and considerate behavior to others, and community service. The bottom line in character development is behavior--their behavior.
As parents, we want our children to be the architects of their own character crafting, while we accept the responsibility to be architects of the environment, physical and moral. We need to create an environment in which our children can develop habits of honesty, generosity, and a sense of justice. For most of us, the greatest opportunity we personally have to deepen our own character is through the daily blood, sweat and tears of struggling to be good parents.
10 Tips for Raising Moral Kids by Michele Borba, Ed.D.
Home is the best school for teaching moral behaviors. Here are 10 parenting tips from Building Moral Intelligence: The Seven Essential Virtues that Teach Kids to Do the Right Thing by Dr. Michele Borba.
1. Commit to Raising A Moral Child How important is it for you to raise a moral child? It's a crucial question to ask, because research finds that parents who feel strongly about their kids turning out morally usually succeed because they committed themselves to that effort. If you really want to raise a moral child, then make a personal commitment to raise one, and don't stop until he does.
2. Be a Strong Moral Example Parents are their children's first and most powerful moral teachers, so make sure the moral behaviors your kids are picking up from you are ones that you want them to copy. Try to make your life a living example of good moral behavior for your child to see. Each day ask yourself: "If my child had only my behavior to watch, what example would he catch?" The answer is often quite telling.
3. Know Your Beliefs & Share Them Before you can raise a moral child, you must be clear what you believe in. Take time to think through your values then share them regularly to your child explaining why you feel the way you do. After all, your child will be hearing endless messages that counter your beliefs, so it's essential the he/she hears about your moral standards. TV shows, movies, newspapers, and literature are filled with moral issues, so use them as opportunities to discuss your beliefs with your child.
4. Use Teachable Moments The best teaching moments aren't ones that are planned-they happen unexpectedly. Look for moral issues to talk about as they come up. Take advantage of those moments because they help your child develop solid moral beliefs that will help guide his behavior the rest of his life.
5. Use Discipline as a Moral Lesson Effective discipline ensures that the child not only recognizes why her behavior was wrong but also knows what to do to make it right next time. Using the right kind of questions helps kids expand their ability to take another person's perspective and understand the consequences of their behavior. So help your child reflect: "Was that the right thing to do? What should I do next time?" That way your child learns from his mistakes and grows morally. Remember your ultimate goal is to wean your child from your guidance so he acts right on his own.
6. Expect Moral Behavior Studies are very clear: kids who act morally have parents who expect them to do so. It sets a standard for your child's conduct and also lets her know in no uncertain terms what you value. Post your moral standards at home then consistently reinforce them until your child internalizes them so they become his rules, too.
7. Reflect on the Behaviors' Effects Researchers tell us one of the best moral-building practices is to point out the impact of the child's behavior on the other person. Doing so enhances a child's moral growth: ("See, you made her cry") or highlight the victim's feeling ("Now he feels bad"). The trick is to help to help the child really imagine what it would be like to be in the victim's place so she will be more sensitive to how her behavior impacts others.
8. Reinforce Moral Behaviors One of the simplest ways to help kids learn new behaviors is to reinforce them as they happen. So purposely catch your child acting morally and acknowledge her good behavior by describing what she did right and why you appreciate it.
9. Prioritize Morals Daily Kids don't learn how to be moral from reading about it in textbooks but from doing good deeds. Encourage your child to lend a hand to make a difference in his world, and always help him recognize the positive effect the gesture had on the recipient. The real goal is for kids to become less and less dependent on adult guidance by incorporating moral principles into their daily lives and making them their own. That can happen only if parents emphasize the importance of the virtues over and over and their kids repeatedly practice those moral behaviors.
10. Incorporate the Golden Rule Teach your child the Golden Rule that has guided many civilizations for centuries, "Treat others as you want to be treated." Remind him to ask himself before acting, Would I want someone to treat me like that? It helps him think about his behavior and its consequences on others. Make the rule become your family's over-arching moral principal.
Dr. Michele Borba is an educational consultant and author who has conducted parent and teacher seminars to over half a million participants. Her latest book is Building Moral Intelligence: The Seven Essential Virtues that Teach Kids to Do the Right Thing (Jossey Bass Publishers). Information on her publications and seminars can be accessed through her Web site, www.moralintelligence.com.
We invite you to investigate the websites listed below for more Parenting Tips.
Writting a Home Rules Contract (Family Code of Conduct)
What is a Home Rules Contract?
A Home Rules Contract is a written set of expectations that adults have of their teens (and preteens). The contract includes basic rules, consequences and privileges.
What is the Purpose of a Home Rules Contract?
The primary purpose of a Home Rules Contract is for teens to be held accountable for their behavior while allowing parents to maintain a reasonable amount of control. A Home Rules Contract will teach teens that there are consequences to breaking rules, the knowledge of which hopefully will transfer in the teen's mind to school rules as well as the legal system.
A Home Rules Contract will not resolve the issues of feelings and emotions involved within the relationships between parents and teens. It can only act as a basic agreement that may allow you to work toward a resolution for problem behaviors, minimizing the disruption and interference that can many times occur during the process of getting bad behavior under control and restructuring a family's rules.
Who is Included in a Home Rules Contract?
We recommend that ALL PARENT FIGURES with whom the teen has contact be involved in the creation and enforcement of the Home Rules Contract. This includes biological parents, step-parents, adoptive parents, custodial persons, noncustodial persons who are responsible for the teens for all or part of a day, and legal guardians. It is very important for divorced parents to put their differences aside and come together for the purposes of creating a unified front for the child, so that one parent does not end up sabotaging another's efforts to bring the child's bad behavior under control. Kids will manipulate and undermine parents who are at odds with each other, but will conform much more readily to a unified front. Even if the divorced parents do not agree on other issues, it is tremendously important for them to agree on how to manage an out-of-control teen. In situations in which two divorced parents really don't get along, the Home Rules Contract can sometimes best be accomplished with the help of a third party, such as a qualified therapist. Again, parents must put aside their differences for the sake of their wayward teen!!
Other adults who may be present in the home but are not actively involved in limit setting and the process of raising the teen should be excluded; for example, an aunt or uncle who is staying with the family. Adults will tend to have different expectations of a teen depending upon their own outlook, and many times, adults who are not ultimately responsible for the teen may not enforce the rules and consequences which you are taking the time to carefully plan, in essence, undermining and making your contract ineffective.
ALL TEENAGERS AND PRETEENS in the family should be included in the Home Rules Contract. In order to be effective, all children need to see the Home Rules Contract as fair. Therefore, it may not work to single out the child with the bad behaviors and exclude siblings, as the offending child will see it as unfair and will most likely refuse to follow it. If the compliant siblings protest their involvement as they are already following the rules, remind them that this is a family effort and they are part of the family. They can be told that since they are already following the rules, this home contract should be a piece of cake for them and that you value their input. By including all siblings, you are firmly establishing the fact that you are a FAMILY, and that getting the family to work as a functioning unit requires the input and cooperation of each family member. This also establishes that children of all ages need to be held accountable for their behavior.
Who Should Write the Home Rules Contract?
A copy of the blank Home Rules Contract should be given to every person who will ultimately be signing the contract, including the teens and preteens, for them to fill out with rules, consequences and rewards they feel are appropriate for the Home Rules Contract. Teens who feel that they are being heard by their parents and are allowed to participate in this process are far more likely to be compliant than those who are handed a set of rules and told "Do it or else." Parents are often amazed at what rules the teens think they should be following and at the severity of punishments they assign for themselves. Many parents have had to actually decrease the punishments that the teen has stated he or she should have for not following certain rules. Other parents have found that their kids will think of very important items that they, the parents, didn't even consider or overlooked. When kids contribute significantly to a good working contract, their contributions should be openly acknowledged and/or praised. It should be cautioned that parents should go over their childrens' suggestions alone, before presenting them to the family, and they should eliminate those suggestions which are made with the sole intent of belittling other family members with whom siblings making the suggestions are not getting along.
Sometimes your teen will refuse to participate, and if that's the case, then you may let him know that this contract will be implemented with or without his cooperation, and if he makes the choice not to participate, you fully intend to follow the contract to the letter. If he ultimately doesn't like something that is put in the contract, then that will be his problem because he didn't participate in writing it. Again, the participation of each person in the family who will be involved, if at all possible, is vital to the success of your contract, but don't allow yourself to be undermined by a teen who is threatening noncooperation!
Your final contract should be the results of negotiation and compromise , taking everybody's ideas into consideration. If the whole idea of a Home Rules Contract threatens to break down when an agreement cannot be reached between two or more parties , particularly parents, the entire family should strongly consider visiting a social worker or family therapist, even if only for one visit, to get an objective third party to help break the log jam and create a Home Contract that everybody can live with. However, some items should not be negotiable, such as a teen demanding a curfew that is later than what the law in your area would allow for his or her particular age group.
What are Appropriate Consequences?
Parents should provide progressive consequences for refusal to follow rules and directions. Unfortunately, some parents, in an effort to "get tough" on their wayward teen, will go overboard and ground the child for weeks and weeks for a single incident. The rationale behind punishment should be primarily to offer an unpleasant learning experience so that the teen will learn to correct his own behavior and not repeat the offending action. For most teens, a punishment that consists of weeks of grounding on a first offense is too long and will cause further resentment rather than be a learning experience for the teen.
Steps to Creating a Home Rules Contract
1. Identify a maximum of five (5) problem behaviors that you feel need to be improved. These behaviors could be priorities, and some should be related to the behaviors that are causing the most problems, i.e., legal problems, school problems, or medical problems (such as illness due to drug abuse or an overdose, or medication compliance issues if the teen is on psychiatric medications such as Ritalin).
2. Specifically identify what the expectation is for each behavior. Be clear and concise when identifying expectations so that there is no chance for a teen to tell you he or she didn't understand the expectation.
* Example: Teen will attend all therapy sessions, including weekly individual and weekly family therapy, and teen will take medication as prescribed).
3. Specifically state what the privileges and consequences will be when a teen is either following the rules or chooses to break the rules. These privileges and consequences should be natural and logical. In other words, when possible, set a consequence that is related to the misbehavior. Be sure you, the parent, are willing and able to enforce the consequences that you set or your contract will be worthless.
Example (for the expected behavior listed above): * Consequence: Teen will not be given any privileges until he complies (car, phone, TV, radio, going out with friends, etc.) THIS IS NOT NEGOTIABLE. * Privilege: Teen will earn parents' trust and be better equipped to cope with stresses.
4. Set a date that the contract may be revised and/or negotiated. Renegotiation is based on the amount of progress. Inform teen that he/she may earn more or fewer privileges based on behavior in the interim. Encourage dialogue with your teen regarding privileges he or she may want to earn in the future.
5. VERY IMPORTANT - Consult with other parental figures to make sure that ALL ARE IN AGREEMENT AND WILLING TO ENFORCE THE CONTRACT AS WRITTEN. If parental figures do not agree on some of the items, it is imperative to make the necessary revisions to come to an agreement. Again, a qualified therapist may be able to help you get over the hurdles of differing opinions.
Examples of Items that Might be Included in a Home Rules Contract
A Sample Contract with three items is included below. The items below are only suggestions to get you started. Parents must take their own individual circumstances and priorities into account when setting up the individual items in a Home Rules Contract. Some items that might be considered priorities, other than those listed below, might include profanity or abusive language towards other family members, homework issues for students with poor grades, and violent behavior towards family members, including pushing, shoving, and slapping.
A list of possible priorities to include in a Home Rules Contract includes:
1. Curfew 2. Chores 3. School behavior and grades 4. Smoking 5. Telephone use 6. Computer use 7. Use of the car 8. Alcohol/drug use
9. Expression of anger or violence, including profanity 10. Conflict resolution helpful when two siblings are at each other's throats) 11. Running away 12. Medication issues and compliance (for those who take regular medicines, such as Ritalin) 13. Attendance at therapy sessions
NOTE: For the safety of everybody involved, police should be called for ALL violent episodes that occur on the part of the teen with the perceived intent of injuring a family member or destroying property that belongs to other family members. Violence that has no consequences will continue to escalate and could eventually result in a serious incident, so this type of behavior needs to be halted immediately by allowing the teen to experience serious consequences for the violent behavior (police, charges and possible court date). It sounds harsh to call the police on your own child, but it is better to have the teen learn from you that violence will never be tolerated, and that this behavior is absolutely forbidden, than for your teen to wind up in jail down the road because he never had any consequences for violence at home. An old saying states that if a parent does not properly discipline a child, eventually society will do the disciplining.
A. Teen will not use any alcohol or drugs.
* Consequence: Teen will be grounded for one week. Grounding consists of: staying home, no friends as guests, no phone calls, etc. etc.) Punishment will increase one week for each subsequent offense (i.e., if teen is caught using substances a second time, punishment will be for two weeks, etc.)
Note: It is VERY important to clearly state what being grounded consists of so that there are no avenues for manipulation by the teen to get out of the punishment).
* Privilege: Teen will be allowed to continue going out with friends and may have continued use of the car.
B. Teen is expected to return home immediately after school except if prior arrangements are made with parents. Teen will inform parents where he/she is going and will be home by 8:00 p.m. on school nights and 11:00 p.m. on nonschool nights.
* Consequence: Teen will be expected to come home twice as early as he was late for one week. (e.g., if 30 minutes late, then curfew will be one hour earlier for the next week).
* Privilege: Teen will maintain current curfew and gain trust (some parents may want to allow their teen to work his/her way up to a later curfew by proving himself or herself, but parents should never set a curfew later than the legal curfew in their area).
C. Teen will perform all assigned chores in a satisfactory manner, according to the standards set by parents. (It is helpful to provide a written list of daily chores so there is no misunderstanding - a dry-erase marker board hung in the kitchen or other family area works great for this purpose).
* 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.
Print a Blank Home Rules Contract to Get You Started
In summary, a Home Rules Contract (Family Code of Conduct) that has been carefully thought out and agreed to by all parties can provide much structure to a teen who is having difficulty staying out of trouble.
Home Rules Contract
(last name of family)
All family members, whose signatures are present on this document below, are in agreement
with and will follow the rules and consequences of this Home Rules Contract as listed:
The contract and information above was borrowed from: TEENS WITH PROBLEMS: Conduct disorder vs. Oppositional Defiant ... According to Merck's Manual, more than half of teens with conduct disorder ... A home rules contract, which is set up with the help of the therapist and ... http://www.teenswithproblems.com/conduct_disorder.html
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