Two Tools for Building Connection with your Teen (and other loved ones.)

One of the very first questions I ask of the parents that I work with is this:  “What is the relationship you want to have with your child?”

The top answer that I get is that parents want to feel close to their children; they want their children to feel close to them and to have open lines of communication and sharing.

Is this true for you too?  If so, here are two tools by one of my favorite authors, Dr. William Glasser, that will help you build the connection you want.

Tool #1:

William Glasser, author of Choice Theory, suggests that if we really want to connect to our children (or anyone else in our lives) we must ask ourselves this question before interacting with our loved ones:

Is what I am about to say or do going to bring this person closer to me or push them further away?”

Ask yourself this question when you wake up in the morning, before you walk back into your home after a long workday, or when you are feeling really frustrated about something that your child, parent, friend, or spouse just did.

The benefits of taking this minute to stop and ask yourself this question is that it will allow you the time to breathe and reconnect to what you really want – to be connected and keep those lines of communication open.

This isn’t always easy or simple to do and I believe that even if this question is in forefront of your mind most of the time (or even in the back!), it will benefit your relationships greatly.

Tool #2:

Another tool I share with my clients is William Glasser’s 7 disconnecting habits vs. 7 connecting habits.

The 7 Disconnecting Habits Vs. The 7 Connecting Habits
Criticizing Caring
Blaming Trusting
Complaining Listening
Nagging Supporting
Threatening Negotiating
Punishing Befriending
Rewarding to Control Encouraging

This chart is a great conversation starter!

I printed this chart out about a year ago and hung it up on our wall in our kitchen.  My kids were immediately intrigued by it and asked for examples on the items on the chart.  This led to a great conversation about each of us taking notice of when we were were criticizing or being criticized, and blaming or feeling blamed by others.  I had no agenda for any of this to happen when I hung this chart up on our wall.  My intention was just to have it serve as a reminder to me!  It was really amazing to see the impact that it had on all of us.

My suggestion:

  • Hang this list up where you can see it and serve as a reminder to you about the relationship you want to have with your teen (and other loved ones.)
  • Have a discussion with your family about what you all think about the 7 disconnecting habits vs. the 7 connecting habits.
  • Talk about what each of you notice about the communication in your home.
  • Come up with suggestions and solutions together to make any changes in the way you communicate with one another to create the home and relationships that you all want!



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