You ask your son Sam to work on his spelling words. He complains that it’s too hard and that he does NOT want to do it. You saw him do these same spelling words earlier in the week and you know he can do them. 


  • Sam’s mom is annoyed by Sam’s behavior. But instead of focusing Sam’s behavior, she focuses on staying in control of herself. 
  • Instead of telling Sam all of the reasons he MUST do his homework, his mom takes time to understand and respect Sam’s perspective.
  • While Sam’s mom is respectful, she also does not give any indication that she will budge. (And if she’s done this before in the past, Sam is more likely to take her seriously.)
  • Whenever Sam is resistant, his mom remains firm and respectful and knows that once he’s out of Yuck, the issue will resolve more easily. 

Mom: Sam, I don’t see you doing your spelling.
Sam: I don’t want to do it.
Mom (frustrated by the comment, she focuses on getting herself out of Yuck and connecting with Sam instead). Ugh, it stinks when you have to do something and you really don’t want to.
Sam: It’s just dumb.
Mom: You know what? I bet there’s a reason you don’t want to do it. (She pauses to let that sink in.) What’s the worst part about doing your spelling?
Sam: It’s boring.
Mom: Ahh, boring. And I know doing boring things is really hard. (Pauses.) Hmm, you do need to get your spelling words done… so what do you think is the solution?
Sam: I have no idea.
Mom: What about walking around while you’re spelling the words? Instead of just sitting still?
Sam:  No, I don’t want to.
Mom (stays silent without giving any indication that she’s going to budge).
Sam: But last time when I did them out loud with you it was a little easier for me to get through. Can we do that again?
Mom: Sure.

(Note: If Sam had not come up with his own solution, his mom would have had to remain firm, tell him firmly but respectfully that nothing else would happen until the spelling was done. Sam would eventually get upset with that, which is the goal since it allows him to travel the Yuck curve. Once he released his Yuck, he would be able to re-access the responsible part of his brain.)


This situation would not have gone the same way if Parker’s dad did not proactively…

  • Know how to handle her own Yuck (so that she didn’t immediately get triggered by Sam’s lack of desire)
  • Understand that Sam’s resistance was a sign that he needed help dealing with the “boredom” of the assignment
  • Demonstrate that she means what she says on a regular basis so that Sam knows that resistance is ineffective
  • Deposit into her relationship with Sam so that she could serve as a “safe” person that wants to support him instead of force him to do what she wants him to do