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Cell phone Agreements: build character & good communication

Updated: Aug 2, 2023

I don`t believe in setting up contracts with your teen around screens/phones for the following reasons:

  1. Contracts do not create buy in

  2. They are "one sided" and determined by one party

  3. They are "rules based" vs "relationship based"

  4. The other party (your child) will sign just to make you happy

  5. Contracts do not open communication or discussions around expectations

  6. Your teen feels controlled in having "no choice" or say with regards to the contract

The results often leads to dishonesty, disconnection and lack of mutual trust.

However, I believe in Agreements which are very different to contracts!

Agreements are the exact opposite of contracts because:

  1. Agreements create buy in

  2. They are "two sided" communicated by all parties

  3. They offer suggestions and ideas co-designed together

  4. The other party (your child) will be more willing to sign with genuine agreement

  5. Agreements open up communication and discussions around expectations

  6. Your teen feels a sense of contribution & control in having a say

Agreements lead to more connection and cooperation because your teen feels heard as parents listen to their ideas and suggestions. This builds mutual trust and respect.

NOTE: This doesn't mean your teen gets what they want! Parents decide on final agreements! Your child will not always agree with you and they will probably be unhappy about something in the agreement.

The main idea around agreements is having the discussion and communicating around screens and devices which creates more buy in, mutual trust and honest commitment.

Use "The Coach Approach" to communicate a set of agreements together.

Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm. Proverbs 13:20

Here are some ideas for you to create phone agreements that develop healthy character traits & good communication skills:

📌Look up when other people are in the room. It`s rude to be on your phone and ignore people. Do not allow your phone to replace real people.

📌Do not use your phone to say anything you wouldn't say in person.

📌Call immediate family members on the morning of their birthdays/other special days. Do not text them and do not contact them at the end of the day as an after thought.

📌Use your phone to be honest and authentic. Do not use it to lie, deceive, gossip or hurt others. Be the friend others can trust.

📌Use respectful language and proper English especially when texting older adults or grandparents.

📌Do not view porn or anything that you wouldn't want your mother to see.

📌Do not send or receive inappropriate photos of your own body or someone else`s. This is risky behavior and will have long term permanent consequences.

📌Eat without your phone. Sleep without your phone. Go to the bathroom without your phone. Exercise or walk without your phone. Be at a social event without your phone. Learn to be present in the moment!

📌Answer your phone when it rings (and you know the number) especially when the call is from your parents. Use good manners and answer with: "Hello Mr Smith..... How are you doing?"

📌Notice the world and real experiences happening around you. Look out of the window. Look up. Listen to nature sounds.

📌 Always choose real people over phones.

These suggestions do not include logistics around screen time and when phones would be switched off at the end of the day. Make sure these agreements are clearly communicated with clearly communicated consequences.

Create clear agreements and get this resource:11 exact agreements with a step by step plan to create a calmer home environment.

Your child/student may be interested in joining a supportive Teen Mentorship 101 coaching class Build time focus, cultivate healthy thinking patterns and resilient confidence, so your child manages their lives responsibly and you experience more peace and calm in your home.

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