Behavioral Contracts and the Adolescent

According to Dr. David Sortino, behavior contracts are developmental because the teenage brain is in a state of continued growth. At times, your child's brain will be capable of "higher order thinking or abstract ideas" and understand your family's values; yet, at other times, their friends and the need to belong, will pull them away from your family's values. Hence, to make a contract effective, we must come up with a contract that is both abstract and concrete at the same time.  A concrete approach spells out the privileges and consequences of the contract. The abstract part is "the actual negotiation, acceptance and follow through of the contract as defined by the family’s values and rules."

Your goal as a loving and concerned parent is to help your child grow into a person who respects your family's values and is oriented towards contributing to the greater community.


Sortino, D. (2011). Contracts, adolescence, and family values. Your child's learning

       brain. The Press Democrat.