Sonya’s mom asks her to get off of her ipad. Immediately Sonya whines and complains that Todd always gets more screen time. Todd denies that he gets more time and the arguing begins.


  • Sonya and Todd’s mom wants her kids to stop arguing. But instead of trying to work through the issue then, she recognizes that when they’re arguing, they’re in Yuck and trying to talk to them at that moment won’t help.
  • When Sonya and Todd’s mom notices the comparing and competing, her instinct is to insist that everything is “fair.” But she knows that doing that will only lead to more competition, so she focuses on what each of the kids need as individuals.

Mom: Todd. Sonya.

The kids continue arguing and ignore her.

Mom: You each want to be heard really badly. I’ll wait until I can hear you both. (She sits down.)

The kids continue arguing and ignore her. Mom waits. After a little while, they kids stop arguing as they finally notice their mom sitting there. 

Mom: Sonya, you were upset that I asked you to get off of the iPad.

Sonya: Yeah, especially when you let Todd have more time than you let me have!

Todd: No she doesn’t!!

Mom: I know that this is important to each of you. I want to listen. I’ll wait. (She continues sitting, knowing her kids can’t really hear her, literally or emotionally.)

Sonya and Todd argue again, but not for as long this time.

Mom (repeats): Sonya, you were upset that I asked you to get off of the iPad.

Sonya: Yes.

Mom: Can you tell me what you want?

Sonya: As much time as Todd has!

Mom: OK, let’s make this about YOU, not Todd. What would you want if Todd weren’t around?

Sonya: I’d want more time.

Mom: For what?

Sonya: I just wanted to finish the puzzle that I was working on.

Mom: So I interrupted you while you were working on something?

Sonya: Yes.

Mom: I can understand why you’d be upset by that….Remember when we used to talk about choosing your ending point BEFORE you started playing? So I didn’t interrupt you when you were in the middle of something? Was that better? 

Sonya: Yeah.

Mom: OK, let’s do that again.

Sonya: But what if Todd gets more time still?

Mom: Sonya, when I’m with you I’m going to focus on YOU. If you want more time on your ipad, let’s talk about that. And Todd, you focus on what you need, OK? You two are different people and will get what you each need.

Sonya: Fine.

Todd: Fine.



This situation would not have gone the same way if Sony and Todd’s mom did not proactively…

  • Know how to handle her own Yuck (so that she didn’t immediately get sucked into the kids’ Yuck). 
  • Recognize that when kids are fighting they are in Yuck, and that engaging with Yuck does not usually solve problems. 
  • Understand that kids compete when they feel like they don’t matter.
  • Deposit into her relationship with both kids on a regular basis so that she can serve as a “safe” person rather than as someone who puts them deeper into Yuck when they try to help.