Karyn and Noel’s dad just got a new app on his phone. Two of his children, Karyn and Noel, ask at the same time see the phone. They each start yelling about why they should get to see it first.
WHAT TO NOTICE IN THIS SCRIPT:
- Karyn and Noel’s dad wants the kids’ fighting to stop. But instead of taking sides, he recognizes and respects both kids’ perspectives. (He knows that taking sides would lead to more competition now and in the future.)
- When Karyn and Noel’s dad hears that both kids are focusing only on themselves, he recognizes this as a sign of Yuck and knows that trying to solve the situation in that moment will be ineffective.
- Instead of getting sucked into the Yuck or engaging with them, he focuses on staying calm himself… and lets the kids release their Yuck.
- Once they’re more open to solving the problem, Karyn and Noel’s dad helps them come up a solution that respects both of them.
Karyn: I want it!
Noel: No, I want it!
Dad: Wow, Karyn, you really want my phone to see the new app. Noel, you want it too!
Noel: YES! I want it!
Karyn: You always get what you want, Noel!
Noel: No I don’t! You got to go to a birthday party yesterday and I didn’t.
Dad (stays calm): OK, you two. This isn’t going anywhere. We’ll talk about you each seeing my phone once we can consider everyone’s feelings.
Karyn: Dad! That’s not fair.
Noel: This is so stupid.
Karyn and Noel (complain for a few minutes).
Dad (stays calm and says nothing the entire time the kids are complaining. After a few minutes, once he notices that Karyn and Noel are less upset): OK. We have two kids and one phone. How can we solve this?
Karyn: I get it first.
Dad: That solution that might work for you, Karyn. And Noel’s feelings matter too. Can you think of a solution that considers his feelings too?
Dad: OK. We can wait a little while longer until we can come up with a solution that works for everyone.
Noel: No! I’ll let Karyn have it first.
Dad: That’s nice, Noel. What will you do while you’re waiting?
Noel: I’ll work on a puzzle.
Karyn: Thanks, Noel. I won’t take too long with it.
WHY BEING PROACTIVE MAKES ALL THE DIFFERENCE
This situation would not have gone the same way if Karyn and Noel’s dad did not proactively…
- Know how to handle his own Yuck (so that he didn’t immediately get triggered by the kids’ bickering).
- Recognize that their negative behavior is a sign of Yuck, and that engaging with Yuck does not usually solve problems.
- Understand that when kids are fighting, they each (ALL) need to feel respected in order to get out of Yuck.
- Understand that kids need help solving problems (they don’t naturally have the tools) when they’re having a disagreement.
- Demonstrate that he means what he says on a regular basis so that the kids know he’s serious when he says no one will get the phone until they come up with a solution.
- Deposit into her relationship with both kids so that he can serve as a “safe” person rather than as someone they want to resist.