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Connectedness and the "Emotional Bank Account"

This is a self-directed activity for use by both parents and teens ages 14-19. It includes the following sections:

Time Required

45 minutes

Setting and Audience

This is a self-directed activity for use by both parents and teens ages 14-19. It is written at a 7th grade reading level. The activity could be introduced in a variety of ways:

  • As a homework assignment given to youth to be completed independently or with their parents,
  • As an activity handed out to parents as part of a workshop or support group, or
  • As an activity posted online.

Activity Rationale

For both parents and children, the teen years can be a tough time to try to maintain a positive emotional connection. Parents want what's best for their children, and almost every parent works hard to raise their children well. Parents make decisions that are necessary to keep teens safe, or to teach them important skills or life lessons. However, these decisions sometimes make teens feel less connected to them, at least for a little while. It is important that teens learn to respect these decisions. It is also equally important that teens feel respected and appreciated for who they are.

This activity will give parents and teens a way to estimate the level of connectedness in their relationship with each other. It will also show them some ways to keep a healthy level of connectedness.

Activity Description

Participants in this self-directed, five-part activity will:

  1. Read some examples of complaints parents and teens have about each other.
  2. Read a story about Keisha and her mother and learn about the "emotional bank account."
  3. Assess how things are going in their relationship with their own parent or teen.
  4. Learn about two ways to increase the deposits you are making in their family member's emotional bank accounts by: a) getting more in touch with their parent's or teen's world, and b) sharing appreciations.

Activity Objectives

After completing this activity parents and/or teens will be able to:

  • Explain the concept of the "emotional bank account;"
  • Estimate the current balance in the "emotional bank account" with their parent or teen;
  • Determine their current balance, or level of connectedness;
  • Name at least one new thing they have learned about their teen's or parent's world; and
  • Name one characteristic they value in their teen or parent.

Materials Checklist

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