Samantha and her parents are going to visit some relatives together. Samantha is unusually quiet, when her parents ask her why, none of her responses make sense.
WHAT TO NOTICE IN THIS SCRIPT:
When Samantha’s dad starts to tell Samantha why her feelings are wrong, she only gets more upset.
Samantha’s mom realizes that Samantha just needs someone to hear her.
- Once Samantha feels heard and respected, she starts to open up a little more.
- Samantha doesn’t need to resolve the situation as badly as her parents want to. Just talking about how she feels and being taken seriously is enough for her.
Dad: Sam, why don’t you want to see your cousins?
Samantha: I just don’t want to.
Mom: But you like them.
Samantha: Yeah… maybe… but I don’t want to see them now.
Dad: But why not? Have they ever been mean to you?
Dad: Didn’t you have fun playing with them last time?
Dad (getting frustrated): Then what is it?
Mom puts her hand on her husband’s arm and gives him a look that implies he should stop talking.
Mom (gently): Sam?
Samantha doesn’t answer.
Mom: You haven’t seen these cousins in a while.
Dad (interrupts): She saw them last year!
Mom: That’s true. And that may feel like a long time to Sam.
Samantha doesn’t say anything.
Mom: Even though you like your cousins, is there something about this visit that makes you nervous?
Sam doesn’t say anything.
Mom: We don’t need to push. Just know if you want to talk, you can.
After a few moments of silence…
Samantha: I just feel like they think I’m dumb.
Dad (laughs): You’re not dumb! Why would you think that?!
Mom gives him a silencing look.
Mom (quietly): Because you’re younger? They may think you’re dumb?
Samantha: No. They always have funny things to say, and I don’t.
Mom: Ah, so you feel left out?
Samantha: Sort of.
Mom: Yeah. That’s not a great feeling. (Doesn’t say anything for a minute.) Do you want to talk about how to handle this? Or would you rather not talk about it now?
Samantha: I’d rather not talk about it now.
Mom: Do you want to talk about planning that surprise party for Grandma?
Samantha (relieved not to be pushed to talk about this visit with her cousins): Yeah!
Samantha feels better, having gotten her concerns off of her chest without her parents trying to fix the situation.
WHY BEING PROACTIVE MAKES ALL THE DIFFERENCE
This situation would not have gone the same way if Samantha’s mom did not…
- Know how to handle her own Yuck (so that she didn’t immediately get triggered by Samantha’s worries)
- Learn more about anxiety so that she could tell that what her daughter needed was to to be helped through her feelings, rather than being told that her feelings were wrong.
- Deposit into her relationship with her daughter so that she can serve as a “safe” person rather than as someone who puts her deeper into Yuck when she tries to help.