Discussion Questions: Chapter Eleven

“Connection: The ‘Super-Protective’ Factor”

This chapter focuses on the emotional “glue” that attaches, connects, and bonds people, and builds trust. An authentic connection with parents makes it safe for children to be who they are. Called the “super-protective” factor, connection is a crucial ingredient in every healthy relationship.

“Anyone who has a computer knows that when you are having technical issues, you first check the connections: Is it plugged in? Has something disconnected…? This also applies to children. When things are not right with children, the first thing to do is ‘check the connections.’” (p. 182)

Q: Treating children with unconditional positive regard builds connection and trust. What are some actions and words you use to show your children they are connected to you, no matter what?

“The human need for connection is the most important emotional and social need of all, and a high quality of life is not possible without it. When the connection is disrupted or missing, it can cause a cascade of related problems.” (p. 182)

Q: Do you agree or disagree? Think of an example.

“Study after study shows that children really do need the attention they crave. If that need is not fulfilled through positive attention, they will ‘act out,’ doing whatever it takes to get attention—whine, yell, or fight with siblings. Negative attention… is better than no attention. Positive attention, on the other hand, results in better behavior with less need for acting out.” (p. 185-6)

Q: What are some positive ways a very busy parent can be attentive to a needy child in the moment – until they can give full attention later? 

“Sometimes when parents try to manage the demands of work, family, and money, the special bonds with their children can get shoved aside. When this happens children’s feelings can get hurt…. It is possible, however, to repair broken connections, and it’s up to the adults to take the lead.”

Q: One mom found that taking a stroll with her kid while holding hands helped them to feel close and reconnected. What are some verbal and non-verbal ways you use to get back in touch after you have dis-connected?

“Best-selling author and physician Gabor Maté agrees that positive attention can change even the most difficult of situations. When parents contact him about oppositional behavior, he gives them two weeks of homework before the first session…. He tells parents to focus on attachment to the child—showing him or her with every action and word that the emotional bond is more important than anything else…. Once parents build the habit of positive attention, the change in the child’s behavior becomes permanent.” (p. 185)


HOMEWORK: Try for one week to give your child nothing but positive attention. If you can do it for two weeks… it becomes a habit!

And our favorite question, in every chapter:

Q: What sentence, paragraph, or idea popped out at you, or stuck with you after reading?

Reply in the Comments, below!

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