Mia is talking to her son James about the fact that she doesn’t want him to keep his phone in his room every night. Instead, she wants him to bring it downstairs at 11PM. 

Mia: I know you’ve been keeping your phone in your room at night. We’re going to change things up… From now on, everyone, including me and Dad, are going to put our phones in the basket on the counter in the kitchen at 11:00.
James: No, Mom!! No way!
Mia: I know it’s different that what you’re used to.
James: It’s not just “different.” It’s idiotic.
Mia (wanting to model to James what it looks like to stay in control even when you’re unhappy, she takes a deep breath): Why?
James: Because I use my phone to do research for homework. And I’m not done by 11.
Mia: So this would get in the way of you doing homework after 11.
James: Yes!
Mia: I agree, I don’t want to get in the way of homework… and the rule isn’t going to change. So I’ll help you figure out what to do about that.
James: What do you mean “figure out what to do about that”? I need my phone.This is the dumbest thing you’ve come up with.
Mia doesn’t respond.
James: Mom, I can’t do it.
Mia doesn’t respond.
James: Mom… Great. Thanks for not caring about my homework! You’ll care when my grades are bad!
Mia: I am not arguing with you about this. I’ll help you figure out what to do about it, but I’m not arguing.
James rolls his eyes.
Mia does not react to the eye rolling in the moment, knowing that James is in Yuck and her comments will not motivate him to stop. She is not “giving in.” She is choosing to stay in control.
Mia: OK, so the homework piece. It sounds like either you’ll have to finish your homework before 11 or only do the homework that doesn’t need a phone after 11.
James: I can’t do that.
Mia: James, I’m really sorry that you don’t like this rule. I realize it messes things up for you. If you want help planning your homework around this, I’m happy to help. And by the way, I know you also talk to your friends after 11… I know this will affect that too.
James: Seriously! None of them have to get off at 11! Why are you the only parent doing this?!!
Mia doesn’t respond.
Mia: OK. We’ll talk about this more later. I know you’re not happy, and I don’t blame you.
Mia walks away, realizing the conversation isn’t going to go anywhere when James is in such Yuck, and she wants to make sure she doesn’t get sucked into it.








  • Even though Mia does not approve of James’ behavior, she doesn’t get sucked in or let his behavior control her. 
  • Mia wants James to learn how to stay calm even when things aren’t going his way, so she models that behavior throughout the conversation. Even though James is not acting like she’d like him to, she stays calm and in control of herself. 
  • Instead of insisting that her agenda is more important than James’s, she continues to respect his perspective, even while she is not changing the boundary.






For this situation to go well, Mia must proactively:


  • Know how to maintain control of her own emotions (so that she doesn’t immediately get triggered by James’ resistance)
  • Understand what is causing James’ behavior — that he’s frustrated and feels out of control and doesn’t have the tools to handle that in a mature way
  • Demonstrate that she means what he says on a regular basis so that James knows there will be no loopholes
  • Deposit into her relationship with James so that James doesn’t immediately assume she is an “enemy”