Xander just started a new school and is telling his mom about it. She asks him if he’s made any friends yet and he tells her that he hasn’t. When she asks him who he sits with at lunch, he tells her that he doesn’t want to talk to anybody.
WHAT TO NOTICE IN THIS SCRIPT:
- Xander’s mom’s instinct is to cheer up her son. Instead, she focuses on supporting him through his feelings.
- Xander’s mom knows that when he’s feeling anxious, he doesn’t have the ability to see solutions to the problems he’s facing. So she does her best to help him feel less alone.
- When Xander’s mom does suggest that he take some action to feel better, she lets him be in control of how that happens. Especially after he’s felt heard and supported, he’s much more likely to take her up on her offer.
Mom: Why don’t you want to talk to anyone?
Xander: Because I don’t know anyone.
Mom: Do you talk to anyone?
Mom: You won’t get to know anyone unless you talk to them.
Xander: I’m fine, Mom.
Mom wants to continue encourage Xander to make friends, but realizes that he’s not in the right place for that. Instead, she stays silent.
Mom (slowly): Being new is hard, isn’t it?
Mom: What’s the worst part?
Xander: Feeling like everyone’s looking at me because I’m the new kid.
Mom wants to tell him that most people probably aren’t looking at him, but she knows he needs her support instead of her reassurance.
Mom (quietly): That must be awful.
Mom: And that makes you not want to talk to anyone?
Xander: Who wants to sit with the new kid?
Mom: You’re worried if you ask someone they’ll say no?
Xander: They will say no. Everyone already has their own friends.
Mom: I can see how it would intimidating to walk up to a group of people that already know each other.
Mom stays silent for a few moments.
Mom: Are you OK eating lunch alone? Or would you like to eat with someone if it were an option?
Xander: I guess I’d rather eat with someone.
Mom: That’s really honest. Thank you for telling me that. You know, you don’t have to feel these feelings by yourself. I’m happy to listen.
Mom: If you want to brainstorm ways to not have to sit alone, I’m happy to do that with you, OK? When you’re ready.
Xander: OK. Thanks.
WHY BEING PROACTIVE MAKES ALL THE DIFFERENCE
This situation would not have gone the same way if Xander’s mom did not…
- Know how to handle her own Yuck (so that she didn’t immediately get anxious herself when Xander was talking about the hard time he was having)
- Understand how to respond to someone with anxiety so that she knew that her son solutions… he needed her support (which didn’t require her to agree with him…. it just required her to listen to him).
- Deposit into her relationship with her son so that she can serve as a “safe” person rather than as someone who puts her son deeper into Yuck when she tries to help.