246: Make this the Year of Connection and Collaboration

Picture of hosted by Penny Williams

hosted by Penny Williams

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In this episode of the Beautifully Complex podcast, we’re setting achievable intentions for the new year, with a strong focus on nurturing connections and fostering collaboration with our neurodivergent kids and teens.

As always, I’m challenging the traditional authoritarian parenting/educating approach and advocate for a collaborative relationship with your kids and students, and I provide practical insights and resources for creating a collaborative environment. I emphasize the importance of spending quality time without distractions to build connections and suggest ways to provide opportunities for children to connect with you and with peers. You can even download my annual goal planning worksheet for 2024 in the show notes.

3 Key Takeaways


Setting intentions for the new year: Instead of setting New Year’s resolutions, focus on setting intentions for the year. This can include parenting intentions, as long as they are achievable and purposeful.


Connection with your child: Building a deep connection with your child involves spending distraction-free, quality time with them, showing interest in their interests, providing opportunities for connections with others, and working on improving their social skills.


Collaboration in parenting and teaching: Rather than being authoritarian, fostering a collaborative relationship with your child, students, or any child you interact with can lead to better problem-solving and decision-making, as well as build mutual trust and respect.

What You'll Learn

The importance of setting intentions for the new year and the difference between this and setting traditional New Year’s resolutions.

Actionable strategies for creating a year of connection and collaboration with your child or students, including the concept of “time in” without distraction, correction, teaching, or leading.

Practical ways to provide opportunities for your child or students to connect with others who share similar interests or passions.

The significance of building connection with your child or students and its impact on their well-being (and your own).

Insights into fostering a collaborative relationship with your child or students, rather than resorting to authoritarian approaches, and how this can lead to mutual trust and respect.


Some of the resources may be affiliate links, meaning I receive a commission (at no cost to you) if you use that link to make a purchase.

The Explosive Child by Ross Greene, Ph.D.

Raising Human Beings by Ross Greene, Ph.D.

Subscribe to Clarity — my weekly newsletter on what’s working in business right now, delivered free, straight to your inbox.

Work with me to level up your parenting — online parent training and coaching  for neurodiverse families.


Penny Williams [00:00:03]: I certainly recognize that society and culture authoritarian teacher or school principal. I imagine it's probably been a part of our culture since the dawn of time. But now we know through both experience and science that there is a better way to have an adult child relationship. Welcome to the Beautifully Complex podcast where I share insights and strategies on parenting neurodivergent kids straight from the trenches. I'm your host, Penny Williams. I'm a parenting coach, author, and mindset mama honored to guide you on the journey of raising your atypical kid. Let's get started. Hello, everyone, parents, teachers, educators, and other caring adults of our neurodivergent kids, I wanna talk to you in this episode about making this the year of connection and collaboration in your family.

Penny Williams [00:01:11]: I don't really believe in setting New Year's resolutions. Cult if you followed me for a while, you're probably aware of that. I think that for the majority of people, we're really just setting ourselves up for failure and resolving that we're finally going to do that thing that we've never been able to be consistent with. Right? We tell ourselves, this year will be different. Will it? Will it be different? In my experience for myself, it's never different. And so I quit setting New Year's resolutions because I knew that I would not be able to keep them. I wanted to shift my focus on setting intentions for the new year. And that's what I really believe strongly in, setting a focus for the year, setting some intentions of what you want to work on for the year.

Penny Williams [00:02:09]: Cults are not saying, I'm gonna go from never exercising to exercising 5 days a week, every week for the entire year and the rest of my life, by the way. Right? Because, hello, if you're not doing it at all, you can't go from 0 to a 150 in the blink of an eye, you have to start somewhere. And I just prefer to look at it as setting some goals and intentions, I like to set a word of the year. And I actually create a worksheet every year for you guys to do this, to really look at it in this different way of setting your focus and your intentions. And you'll be able to go to the show notes and download that worksheet for 2024, and I will tell you where to do that at the end of the episode, so just keep listening. So when we're setting focus and intention for a new year, that can include some parenting intentions for 2024. Right? As long as they're achievable, I want you to remember throughout this episode as I'm talking culture about making it the year of connection and collaboration, shifting your focus, shifting your intentions, it always has to be doable. Doable for you, doable for your kids.

Penny Williams [00:03:30]: It has to be something that you can actually achieve. We want you to succeed with setting focus and intention, with being more purposeful in your parenting, for helping your kid achieve some new goals, or make progress in some areas. It needs to be achievable. So maybe you've gotten into some bad patterns, and you wanna start fresh with a reset. Or maybe things are going okay, and you want to renew your focus in a couple of aspects of your parenting, all of that is doable as long as you set realistic expectations. And I applaud all efforts to be intentional and purposeful in your parenting. This is something I learned very early on in my own parenting journey, is I could get really overwhelmed by what was going on in our family, and just run on autopilot, but never feel like we were making progress, and never feel very good, honestly. Or I could start to really focus on being purposeful and intentional, being very mindful of what I was doing from day to day in my parenting, and that was a game changer.

Penny Williams [00:04:52]: So today, I wanna focus on two potential intentions in parenting that can have a profound impact across the board, their connection and collaboration. Now I would love for you to adopt these 2 intentions for your new year, for 2024 as well, I think that they are very magical. I know that most of you think I overuse the word magical, but I'll tell you, when things make a profound shift in our families or for our kids who are struggling, it feels magical to me. Cult and I love to have a little sprinkling of magic in our lives. Right? Who doesn't? And so I've tried to pick a couple of intentions here to talk about today that really have a broad and sort of intensive impact, positive impact for us as parents and for our kids, for us as teachers, if educators are listening, grandparents, this works for everyone. These are 2 aspects of being the adult in a kid's life, that can have huge and sweeping positive impacts and change. So let's dive into connection first. As human beings, we need connection with others to feel good.

Penny Williams [00:06:17]: We can't have fulfillment unless we have connection with others, we cannot feel good unless we have connection with others. Cult and if you've listened here before to this podcast, you know that we must feel good in order to be able to do good, that goes for us as the adult. It also goes for kids. So to make this the year of connection for your family or for your classroom, you need to create a plan of action of what you will do to connect with your child, to connect with your students, to help them build connections with others. One of the biggest connection builders between parent and child, adult and child, is being very human and transparent with and in front of your kids. Colt your kids need to feel that they can talk to you, that they can relate to you, that they can be their authentic selves with you, and that they can live up to your expectations and standards. You can't connect if your kid doesn't feel fully comfortable with you. Cult I wanna say that again.

Penny Williams [00:07:37]: You can't connect if your kid doesn't feel fully comfortable with you. Co so you have to set a tone and a relationship with your child or student that opens the door fully for them to come to you, to want to speak to you, to want to confide in you, cult want to ask you questions to get your advice. All of those things have to be true in order to build connection. Cult as I talked about in a recent episode, number 242, on building confidence with our teens, I want you to make time in cult part of your family culture. You can sort of adapt this and use this in classrooms as well. Time in isn't just for little kids. So this is for everyone, even adults. Spend time with your child without distraction, without correction, without teaching, and without leading.

Penny Williams [00:08:41]: Again, co time together with no distraction, no correction, no teaching, and no leading, because you need to show interest in their interests and engage in conversation about their interests. They need to feel that you are wholly 1000% cult there for them in that time that you're spending time in together. This is crucial to building connection. When we're distracted, our kids don't feel like they are a priority to us, that they are important to us. If we are constantly correcting, teaching, and leading, they don't feel like what is important to them, what is true for them, cult is real and important to you. They don't feel important to you, so it is very important that you have time together with 0 distraction, correction, teaching, and leading. Yes. I've said it many times.

Penny Williams [00:09:40]: I want you to internalize it. Cult this is crucial. Without these aspects, you are not building connection. Cult if you are answering the phone, answering texts, scrolling on social media while spending time with your kid, you are not building connection. Cult, you are sending the message that those things are more important than they are to you. And I know that's not your intention, people. Cult I know it. I know it's not your intention.

Penny Williams [00:10:10]: It's so easy to get distracted. It's so easy to have a hard time focusing on things our kids are interested in when we have zero interest whatsoever in those same things. Right? I get it. Remember, I have kids. I have lived this. They are now young adults. But even as young adults, I am still practicing time in as much as I can with them when they want to spend time with me, right, but I make it an intention that when we're together, there's no distraction, no correction, no teaching, no leading. DCTL, no distraction, correction, teaching, or leading.

Penny Williams [00:10:45]: Please, please, please make sure that is part of your time together with your kids so that you can build connection. Now you wanna provide opportunities for connection with others for your kids as well. This is something I talked a little bit about, again, back in episode 242. You provide opportunities for tips. C t is for talents, I is for interests, and p is for passions tips, talents, interests, and passions. Activities that your child is good at and that they enjoy. The same goes in our classrooms, things that a student is good at or enjoys. Give them opportunities to fulfill those areas.

Penny Williams [00:11:31]: Having a shared interest or passion helps to overcome some social challenges and can make connection a little easier. So if your child is getting together with other kids in a group that is meant to either talk about, learn about, or even celebrate a certain theme or topic, that shared interest or passion in that group is going to help the social challenges social sort of struggles to not be so big and in the kids' faces. Right? It's going to help to just have other kids overlook that because they're so excited to be with other kids who share that talent, interest, or passion. Some examples of providing opportunities in these areas include volunteering in an animal shelter if your kid likes animals, may be fostering animals from a shelter, volunteering to pick up trash if they're passionate about the environment. Cult, there are constantly groups in our communities who are getting together and having days where they go together to cult pick up trash to clean up playgrounds, maybe, whatever it might be that you can find. If your kid is into electronics or coding, gaming, there are classes for kids that are age appropriate in electronics, in coding, cult that you can have them involved in. Right? They could join a gaming club or an anime club if they're into those things, if they love Legos. Cult many places have this franchise called Bricks For Kids.

Penny Williams [00:13:22]: They do after school programs and other get togethers, cult or you could have kids over to your house once or twice a month and have a LEGO building party, where they get out all the Legos and they bring some of their own Legos and they build whatever they want or they build together, cult that they're doing that shared loved activity together with other kids. That helps them to build connection. Cult and, of course, you also want to work on improving their social skills to improve their ability to connect with other kids, other teens, other young adults, whatever age group we're talking about, and you can do that in a few ways. You can do this yourself cult by talking about how characters in a book or a movie or a TV show have handled different social dynamics. So thinking about how their favorite character handled maybe talking to a friend about something that was bothering them confronting someone in a way that is meaningful and goes well. Right? That isn't really about confrontation. Learning different skills by reflecting on how they have seen others or characters handle different situations can be really helpful. Cult you could also provide social rules, which works especially well for kids who are very literal, or they're very black and white, or concrete thinkers.

Penny Williams [00:14:54]: That worked well for us. When my son was little, he really appeared to be very selfish and bossy in social interactions, and it really wasn't his nature. I knew that wasn't him, but that was definitely the way that he was coming across in interactions with his peers and other kids, and what I realized by really thinking about the fact that it wasn't his personality, it wasn't his nature, was that he just didn't realize that he was monopolizing those interactions, co and he didn't know how to behave more appropriately in those situations. He didn't know the social norms. And so we gave him some social rules, because black and white concrete thinking kids do well with very clear rules. They're typically rule followers. It's very important to them, this a sense of justice. Right? They sort of can be our little enforcers, which doesn't turn out well, honestly, in most cases, but we just have to understand that rules are very concrete for them.

Penny Williams [00:16:07]: They see them in a very black and white way. So we can use that sometimes to their benefit, and giving them social rules is one way to do that. So one thing that we did was we set a rule that cult when you have someone over to your house, they are your guest. And guests always get to pick what you're going to play, what activity you're going to do first, they always get first pick. And I'll tell you what. Forevermore, my son has always let his guest be the 1st one to pick. We probably started implementing this around age 7 or 8, maybe, and now he's 21. So it works, because rules work for him.

Penny Williams [00:16:47]: He needs to understand why. But once he understands why, the rule works for him, and it really, really helped with his social interactions with other kids. And then we also worked on reciprocity cult are using a timer. So your guest gets 30 minutes, and then the timer goes off, and you switch. Now you get 30 minutes choose what to play, and you can go back and forth in that way with that timer as long as they are together. Cult you can also work with a therapist on social skills. Sometimes even speech language pathologists will work on social skills, especially conversational skills and social reciprocity. So you can also look for a professional to work on these things with your kids as well.

Penny Williams [00:17:36]: So now I wanna shift, and I wanna talk about collaboration, that other intention that you can set for this new year. I certainly recognize that society and culture is pushing you to be an authoritarian parent, or an authoritarian teacher, or school principle, it's been a part of our culture for centuries. I imagine it's probably been a part of our culture since the dawn of time, it's always been a thing, this authoritarian sort of structure for society and for relationships. But now we know, through both experience and science, cult that there is a better way to have an adult child relationship. I like to think of our role as parents as a guide or a Sherpa. Cult when climbing a mountain, the Sherpa is a guide and a support system to climbers. They show climbers how to move forward, and they know when to encourage them to push on, when to slow down, and when to stop and revise their plan to make adjustments and pivots. They don't climb the mountain for you.

Penny Williams [00:18:49]: They don't tell you specifically what your goals should be and how to do that, but they support your experience so that you can have the best outcome possible to achieve your goal as the climber. So in parenting, we are there to offer wisdom, nourishment, and support on our child's journey. Not our journey, your child's journey. Our job is not to raise are reflection of ourselves or force our kids to be what we want them to be. And an authoritarian approach doesn't support what parenting should be. Instead, our relationship with our child should be collaborative. As we've talked about, we're on this journey together. I'm here to teach you things you need to know and to support your experience in this world, help you lead an authentic and fulfilling life, whatever that looks like for you.

Penny Williams [00:19:49]: It's pretty simple to have a collaborative relationship with your child co once you commit to swimming upstream against that tide of compliance and authority, when you commit to fostering collaboration, including your child in problem solving and decision making, on things that affect them. In a parent child relationship based on collaboration, parents are listening to and considering their kids' point of view, and then working together to find solutions. Co working with your kids like this, rather than just telling them what to do, teaches them so many skills, problem solving, frustration tolerance, emotional regulation, just to name a few. And it continues to build mutual trust and respect between you. So parent child, you're building trust and respect. Teacher child, principal child, cult other adult in a child's life and child. You're building that mutual trust and respect between you. Now Ross Greene, who is the author of The Explosive Child and Raising Human Beings, offers a framework for collaborative parenting and also for collaboration in schools in working with kids with a lot of challenges.

Penny Williams [00:21:09]: Cult you can visit his website or read his books to learn his framework for collaborative and proactive solutions. His website is livesinthebalance.org. I will link that up in the show notes as well as linking up his books as well. But he outlines and gives you the system for collaborative parenting and collaborative teaching, you can definitely take that further. I hope you'll set some parenting intentions for this year around both connection and collaboration with your child or your students, it could very well change everything for the better. Cult to access the show notes for this episode, go to parentingadhdinaautism.com col / 246 for episode 246. Also there on that Internet page, cult you can download my annual goal planning worksheet for 2024, which is going to help you set your word for the year and your intentions, not just around your parenting, you can use this also for your goals and intentions for the year, for yourself personally. Cult or you can print 2 of them and do 1 for your parenting and 1 for you personally.

Penny Williams [00:22:42]: However you want to do this activity, I just encourage you to do this. It really can make a difference. I tape mine up on the wall next to where I work in my home office so that I can be reminded throughout the year of what my goals are, what I want to focus on creating more of for myself and my family and in my work with all of you. So I hope you'll take advantage of that. Co again, the link is parentingadhdinaautism.com/246. And that is the end of this discussion I hope to see everyone here on the next episode. In the meantime, please take good Thanks for joining me on the Beautifully Complex podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe and share, cult and don't forget to check out my online courses and parent coaching at parentingadhdandautism.com and at thebehaviorrevolution.com.

Thank you!

If you enjoyed this episode, please share it. Have something to say, or a question to ask? Leave a comment below. I promise to answer every single one. **Also, please leave an honest review for the Beautifully Complex Podcast on iTunes. Ratings and reviews are extremely helpful and appreciated! That's what helps me reach and help more families like yours.

I'm Penny Williams.

I help stuck and struggling parents (educators, too) make the pivots necessary to unlock success and joy for neurodivergent kids and teens, themselves, and their families. I'm honored to be part of your journey!

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About the show...

I'm your host, Penny.

Join me as I help parents, caregivers, and educators like you harness the realization that we are all beautifully complex and marvelously imperfect. Each week I deliver insights and actionable strategies on parenting neurodivergent kids — those with ADHD, autism, anxiety, learning disabilities…

My approach to decoding behavior while honoring neurodiversity and parenting the individual child you have will provide you with the tools to help you understand and transform behavior, reduce your own stress, increase parenting confidence, and create the joyful family life you crave. I am honored to have helped thousands of families worldwide to help their kids feel good so they can do good.

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