Lizzy, her sister Brooklyn, and their brother Blake are in the back seat of the car. Brooklyn is playing with her tablet when Lizzy starts to annoy her.


  • Lizzy and Brooklyn’s mom wants her kids to stop arguing. But instead of trying to work through the issue then, she recognizes that when they’re arguing, they’re in Yuck and trying to talk to them at that moment won’t help.
  • When Lizzy is annoying her sister, her instinct is to insist that she stop being so annoying. But she remembers that unless Lizzy has another way to get her needs met, she won’t “just stop.”
  • Lizzy and Brooklyn’s mom focuses on staying calm and giving her daughter what she needs to be successful — respect and tools. 

Brooklyn: Lizzy, leave me alone!

Lizzy: I just want to see what you’re watching!

Brooklyn: But your face is blocking the screen!

Mom: Hey, Lizzy, what were you just watching?

Brooklyn: I was watching “Inside Out.”

Mom: Ah, you love that movie. Why’d you stop?

Brooklyn: Yeah, don’t bother me just because you don’t want to watch your movie.

Lizzy: I’m not BOTHERING YOU!

Mom (lowers her voice and says firmly): Brooklyn. Lizzy. 

Brooklyn: Yes you are bothering me! 

Lizzy: No I’m not!

Mom (looks at the girls but doesn’t say a word. They continue to argue for another minute. When the tension decreases, she begins talking calmly.) Brooklyn, you are watching your show and you want to keep watching.

Brooklyn: YES.

Mom: Lizzy, you’re done with “Inside Out” and wanted to see what Brooklyn was watching.

Lizzy: Yeah, and I’m not being annoying.

Mom: Lizzy, what else did you bring to do?

Lizzy: Nothing I want to do.

Mom: Oh that stinks. No wonder you’re looking for something else to do. 

Lizzy: Yeah.

Mom: I know when I’m looking for something to do, I sometimes try to look at what other people are doing too. (playfully) Well if you’re bored, there’s always your homework…

Lizzy: No way. 

Mom: OK then, I challenge you to come up with words that begin and end with the same letter. What words begin and end with “t”? 

Lizzy: The word “that”!

Mom: OK, think of a few more and write them down. I’m going to check back in with you in a few minutes. I don’t think you can get more than 3 by then… 

Lizzy leaves Brooklyn alone while she tries to prove her mom wrong. 



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

  • Know how to handle her own Yuck (so that she didn’t immediately get sucked into the kids’ Yuck).
  • Recognize that when kids are fighting they are in Yuck, and that engaging with Yuck does not usually solve problems. 
  • Understand that kids often bother their brother or sister when they are bored / underengaged. 
  • Know how to teach her kids HOW to do better by teaching them tools instead of telling them why their behavior is unacceptable.
  • Deposit into her relationship with both kids on a regular basis so that she can serve as a “safe” person rather than as someone who puts them deeper into Yuck when they try to help.