The behavioral contract is intended to change the behavior of a student who is regularly making a poor choice. It is a contract that outlines the responsibility of each participant.
A School Psychologist or a School Counselor typically facilitates this process. The School Psychologist will talk to the teacher and the parent to identify a target behavior (the desired behavior) and to understand possible limitations and possible rewards.
The student should also be involved in this process. When a student takes some ownership, it increases the chance that the student will take some responsibility. It is usually positive to let the student help write and have some input into the rewards and consequences outlined in the contract. Response to the contract is the choice of the child. It is more likely to be successful when the student has some ownership in its development.
The contract can be very simple or quite complex depending on its design. Age and ability level should be considered during the creation of the contract. Additionally, contracts should never be utilized for a behavior in which a student has no control over. Behavior contracts are a behavior intervention strategy used to help a child make better choices.
The contract should clearly state each participant and their responsibility. Each participant commits to fulfill a specified agreement and then signs and dates the contract. The child will agree to perform a target behavior (i.e. complete homework every night, keep hands to himself, etc.) The teacher agrees to offer a reward if the student completes the target behavior or the teacher may agree to communicate with the parent regarding student’s behaviors. Sometimes a parent will provide the reward and will also sign the contract.
In order for the contract to be effective, teachers must be consistent. All parties must do their part to ensure success. If a teacher can not show consistency, they can not expect the student to be consistent either.