What This Is Like from a Parent’s Perspective


You just want the day to go calmly. You don’t want to deal with the drama.

So when your child is freaking out because you told them they couldn’t have or do something…

… and they won’t listen when you tell them to calm down,

… and everything you say just makes things worse,

You feel helpless and more than a little annoyed.


What This Is Like From a Child’s Perspective


Kids live in a world where they are told what to do all the time. They often have to share, or stop doing something they were in the middle of doing, and they are told “no” and “stop” all day long.

Eventually it starts to wear on them, and they melt down.

… And they don’t have the tools to deal with their Yuck, so they feel even more overwhelmed.

… And everyone tells them to stop, and to calm down, and to stop overreacting.

And all that does is make them is make them even more upset. And they don’t know how to make things better. 



How It Usually Goes When

Kids Have to Stop Doing Something to Transition


Scenario: Martin is building something with his lego set when his mom reminds him that he has tae kwon do soon and will need to stop playing in 5 minutes. Martin starts melting down, insisting that doesn’t want to go to tae kwon do.


Mom: Martin, you have to go to tae kwon do.

Martin (whining): But I never have any time to myself!

Mom: You can play when we get home!

Martin (sobbing): I just want to finish now.

Mom: Martin, you made a commitment. When you say you’re going to be in class, you have to be there.

Martin: But I don’t want to!

Mom: That’s too bad, Martin.

Martin (moves to push his mom).

Mom: MARTIN! That is unacceptable!

Martin backs away but starts wailing. Mom knows that if she can get Martin to class, they’re going to be late.


How We Can Make Transitions Easier

by Addressing Problems Proactively 


Scenario: Martin is building something with his lego set when his mom reminds him that he has tae kwon do soon and will need to stop playing in 5 minutes. Martin starts melting down, insisting that doesn’t want to go to tae kwon do.

Since this situation has happened many times, Martin’s mom addresses it with him BEFORE his next class. 


Mom: Martin, I’ve noticed we keep getting into fights right before you have to go to tae kwon do.

Martin (doesn’t say anything).

Mom: What’s it like for you when you have to go to tae kwon do?

Martin: It’s annoying. You always interrupt me.


[expand title=”CALM”]

Martin’s mom is upset that Martin is blaming her. But she knows if she reacts to that comment, they will get off track and she won’t motivate better behavior.

Martin’s mom reminds herself that that is Martin’s Yuck talking and that engaging with Yuck is futile… and she remains calm. [/expand]


Mom: I can tell. I ask you to stop playing to get ready to go, you get mad.

Martin: Yeah, that’s because I’m usually in the middle of doing something else.

Mom: Ahh, and you want to finish playing but I make you stop.

Martin: Yeah.

Mom: You wish you could finish what you were doing.

Martin: Yeah. I never have time to do anything I want.

Mom: You do do a lot of activities during the week. (Pauses.)


[expand title=”CONNECT”]

Martin’s mom knows that if she want Martin to act responsibly, she has to respect his perspective first.

Because she’s handling the situation when she is not in Yuck, she can easily see Martin’s point of view. [/expand]


Martin: Yeah.

Mom: Do you like Tae Kwon Do once we get there?

Martin: Yeah, it’s fine.

Mom: OK, good, because we are signed up for a few more months. So how do you think we can make it easier to get you going?

Martin: I don’t know.

Mom: Well you don’t like when I interrupt you. What would be better for you?

Martin: I’m just usually not at a good place to stop when you tell me we have to go.

Mom: Would it be better if you found a good place to stop?


[expand title=”CORRECT”]

Martin’s mom maintains her boundary while helping Martin find a solution that will allow him to meet the boundary that she has set. She respects his need to not be interrupted but also shows him that he must do what he is supposed to do.

Because she is handling the situation proactively, she can think of solutions rather than being blocked by her Yuck. [/expand]


Martin: Sometimes I don’t know where that will be.

Mom: Do you need help with that?

Martin: Yeah, I guess.

Mom: So what if I come up to you at least 10 minutes before we have to go and help you find a stopping point?

Martin: That’s fine. 

Mom: OK, let’s try this. But we’ll need to talk about it again if it doesn’t work, OK?

Martin: Fine.




Why Proactive Joint Problem Solving Works


  • When situations are dealt with in between times of Yuck, Yuck is no longer an obstacle.  Without Yuck, parents stay calmer and children are less likely to be disrespectful or resistant to solutions.


  • When parents can truly listen to and connect with their children, they can identify the real reason that kids aren’t doing what they’re supposed to do. And once they know the reason, they can find a solution for that reason. 


  • Joint problem solving requires children to have a say in the plan and the consequence if the plan isn’t followed. When children have this type of control, they are more invested in making the plan work.