Scenario: Peter has a doctor’s appointment coming up, and he’s nervous about it. His mom has already tried to reassure him that he would be fine, but that didn’t help. 


  • Peter’s mom is able to change her strategy from one that feels better to her (trying to convince Peter to be more confident) to one that helps Peter (being there for him).
  • When Peter’s mom focuses on just simply supporting her son, both she and Peter feel better.

Mom (thinks): I don’t know why he’s so nervous! Our doctor is so nice and nothing bad has ever happened there before
Mom (to Peter): Peter, you’ve been to the doctor so many times before.

Peter: I DON’T want to go. 

Mom (thinks): He’s being so stubborn! But telling him all of the reasons he’ll be fine isn’t working. Maybe that’s not what he needs.
Mom (to Peter): You know what, I hear you. You don’t want to go.

Peter doesn’t say anything. 

Mom (thinks): Well at least he’s not resisting me anymore. Maybe just listening to him would be more helpful than telling him that how he’s feeling is wrong.
Mom (softly): Peter, is there anything you want to tell me?

Peter (rudely): No.

Mom (thinks): I’m trying to be nice and he’s not accepting it! Maybe it’s just because he’s worried. Maybe he doesn’t need me to fix things. Maybe he just needs to know I’m  here. 
Mom: Peter, I’m not going to try to make you feel better.

Peter doesn’t say anything. 

Mom (thinks): I’m just going to be quiet to show him I can handle his feelings.
Mom doesn’t say anything for a few moments. 

Peter (quietly): Last time we were at the doctor, we had a woman. And I didn’t like it.

Mom (thinks): Ah, so that’s what it is! I can fix that.
Mom (to Peter):  Oh, no problem! I can make sure you see a man this time.

Peter (getting upset again): You always embarrass me when you ask for things!

Mom (thinks): Ugh, I’m trying to fix this again. I need to let HIM feel in control.
Mom (to Peter):  Fair enough. Would you like to ask to see a male doctor?

Peter: No!

 Mom: OK. We have to go to the doctor. I can’t change that. But I won’t take over. You’re in charge of how this goes. I just want you to know that I’ll be here with you if there’s anything you need. 

Peter reluctantly goes with his mom, feeling her support rather than her attempt to control everything. 
Mom realizes she didn’t convince Peter to be confident, but that making him feel better is not in control. Instead, she feels good about showing him she can be there for him. 



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

  • Know how to handle her own Yuck (and recognize that her thoughts were making her Yuck worse)
  • Understand that Peter’s concerns were not being addressed by logic, and instead he needed someone to just be on his side. 
  • Deposit into her relationship with Peter so that she could serve as a “safe” person that can help him through his feelings.