The other week our kids were driving me insane. They weren’t doing anything too terrible, but collectively they were all failing in one way or another to behave the way we have raised them.

Instead of just hitting my head against a brick wall, I tried to think of something out of the square to reinforce our expectations of them – above and beyond the constant nagging that they seem to have become immune to! 

I drew up a behaviour contract that outlined what we expect of our kids:

  1. 1.              Show respect to one another, parents, teachers etc
  2. 2.              Do your chores without complaint
  3. 3.              Use manners and be grateful
  4. 4.              Take responsibility and be organised
  5. 5.              Do as you are told by parents and teachers


Consequences: Loss of any or all of these:

Phone, wi-fi, computer, xbox, stars, pocket money and going out privileges

After I printed off this list (which incidentally is no different behaviour to what we have always tried to instill in them since they were toddlers), I sat down with each of the kids and explained, point by point, what behaviour was required to comply, citing examples of previous breaches. I then explained the consequences of failing to comply. 

The kids thought this was a joke, until I got each of them to sign the contract to show that they understood the behaviour we expect of them and that they understood the consequences of misbehaving.

It may seem hard-core to get your kids to sign a behaviour contract, but I was looking for some serious form of commitment from my kids that they would behave in a manner that we see as appropriate. They all signed (some more reluctantly than others) and I reaffirmed that if they were well behaved then they wouldn’t have to worry about the listed consequences. I then hung the contract in a place of high visibility that they will see everyday.

I just hope that seeing our expectations formalised in black and white and the fact that they have acknowledged these rules that they will remain top of mind.

For the record, the initial effect was an improvement in behaviour, however one child has lost wi-fi privileges and the x-box remote has been confiscated (I just hope I remember where I hid it when the time comes to give it back!) 

What lengths have you gone to in order to get your kids behaving politely and responsibly? I’m always open to new ideas to help shape behaviour!


(photo courtesy of Jeroen van Oostrom,


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