Family Treatment Agreements are a simple yet powerful tool to encourage family conversations and set behavior expectations and roles for family members. Family Treatment Agreements are especially useful as families balance work and school in unprecedented times. In the classroom, similar agreements are utilized. Students and teachers discuss and agree as a group what appropriate treatment should look like, student to student, student to teacher, and teacher to student. In the home, children and parents/caregivers discuss and agree as a family what appropriate treatment should look like between child to parent, parent to child, and sibling to sibling or family to home.
HOW TO CREATE A FAMILY TREATMENT AGREEMENT
Start by collaborating and discussing with your family what your family values (kindness, compassion, respect, forgiveness, generosity, teamwork, resilience, etc.) are. You may have a good sense of what these values mean to your family members but it's important to ask your child for their thoughts and input. Be prepared for and encourage all kinds of answers as you record everyone's contributions. Focused questions will assist you in developing the Family Agreement into a powerful tool that empowers children and parents to develop a sense of ownership of their decisions and accountability to themselves and others.
What do you think is most important to your family?
What does kindness/compassion/respect/forgiveness/etc. look like and feel like to you?
What doesn't kindness/compassion/respect/forgiveness/etc. look like or feel like to you?
Can you describe an event that made you feel _______?
Can you describe an event that didn't make you feel __________?
Child to Parent, Parent to Child, Sibling to Sibling
Keep it simple and positive. In each section together create 3 – 5 clear, easy to remember, action-oriented agreements that cover a broad range of situations. Focus on what you expect to see and hear.
Use positive, concrete, and specific language.
"be nice" → “use helpful words”
"no hitting" → “keep bodies and feelings safe”
More Ideas for Your Family Agreements:
- Use polite words like "please" and "thank you"
- Be helpful to each other.
- Listen and respond respectfully.
- Look in each other's eyes when speaking/replying.
- Take care of our space by placing items back where they belong.
- Fix it if you hurt it or break it.
Make It Right
When creating the Family Treatment Agreement engage in a conversation with your child on what to do when an agreement has been broken. Be flexible yet consistent in how you handle broken agreements. How will your child, or you, Make It Right?
- Talk it out with the person
- Ask for a second chance
- Forgive and move on
Remember, these are Family Agreements – for *both* child and grown-up. Let your child know that they can remind you when you’re not following an agreement – they’ll feel more ownership if it’s a two-way street.
- Place the agreement in a common area, like on the fridge in the kitchen.
- Include drawings or visuals next to each agreement to assist young children.
- Ask each family member to sign the agreement to show their commitment.
- Engage in family discussions about agreements regularly and celebrate when a family member successfully (and proudly) abides by an agreement.
- Agreements can and should change based on your family's experiences and as your child enters different developmental phases and needs change.
- Sometimes all your child needs is a reminder and an opportunity for a re-do.
(adapted from myplinkit.com)
There are many life-skill benefits to building relationship skills including:
- Resolving conflicts in a healthy manner.
- Communicating clearly.
- Establishing healthy and rewarding relationships.
Articles/Books/Videos for Parents:
- Peace Plan @ NVLA Charter
Videos/Books to share with your child: