Scenario: Marlena’s parents have a rule that Marlena has to clean her room. They want to give her some control over the process, so they’ve told her that she can decide when she actually does the cleaning. But they’ve noticed that she’s still not cleaning like she’s supposed to, so her mom addresses it with her when they’re NOT in the middle of the cleaning power struggle. 


  • Marlena’s mom is frustrated that Marlena is so resistant to clenaing. But because she’s dealing with this more proactively, she is able to stay lightearted and does not get triggered by Marlena’s attitude (which would make the situation worse).
  • Instead of trying to convince Marlena about all of the reasons she must clean, her mom takes time to understand and respect Marlena’s perspective. She remains firm AND but also remains on Marlena’s side. 
  • While Marlena’s mom is respectful, she also does not change her expectation that the room get clean.


Mom: Hey Mar… We’ve noticed that your room hasn’t been getting cleaned on weekends.
Marlena: Wait! I clean my room!
Mom (laughs): Sometimes I’m still tripping over your clothes on Monday  mornings, honey. (Lightheartedly): I will admit, though, that your stuffed bunny does look adorable surrounded by all of those clothes on the floor.
Marlena (smiles).
Mom: The room does need to get cleaned.
Marlena: I know.
Mom: OK, well what do you think is stopping you from cleaning?
Marlena: I don’t know.
Mom: What is it that you prefer to do instead?
Marlena: Anything. Color. Read. Watch videos.
Mom: Ah, all stuff that is interesting to you.
Marlena: Yeah.
Mom: Cleaning your room is NOT.
Marlena. No.
Mom: Oh I get that. I used to hate cleaning my room too. I STILL think it’s boring but I find ways to make it less boring. So how would we make cleaning your room less boring?
Marlena: I don’t know.
Mom: Can I make a suggestion?
Marlena: I guess.
Mom: What if you put laundry baskets around your room? And played a basketball game to get the clothes in?
Marlena: I don’t know.
Mom: Do you have any ideas?
Marlena: No.
Mom: Babe, it’s gotta get done. And you do not like doing it. It does stink that we have to do things that we don’t want to. (She doesn’t say anything else and the two sit in silence for a moment.)
Marlena (sighs). Fine.
Mom: What’s your idea?
Marlena: I’ll try the baskets around the room. I think I might need music too.
Mom: Music is fine. (She pauses.) So laundry baskets and music. One more question.
Marlena: What?
Mom: What do you want me to do if this plan doesn’t get followed?
Marlena: You can just say “baskets.” That’ll remind me to throw the stuff in the baskets and get it done.
Mom: OK. But we’re going to revisit this plan to see how it works, OK? Because the room has to get clean.
Marlena: I know, Mom.


This situation would not have gone the same way if Marlena’s mom did not

  • Know how to handle her own Yuck (so that she didn’t immediately get triggered by Marlena’s “laziness”)
  • Understand that Marlena’s resistance is a sign that she doesn’t have the tools to do things she didn’t feel like doing (such as completing boring tasks)
  • Demonstrate that she means what she says on a regular basis so that Marlena knows she has to do what her mom asks 
  • Deposit into her relationship with Marlena so that she doesn’t use not cleaning as a way to try to disrespect or control her mom