Today’s target skill is using a just right approach when interacting with others. There are three ways a person can approach all interactions (speaking, body language, actions, etc.): the too much, the too little, and the just right way.
● Too much: is often too loud, it may hurt people’s ears, and can cause people to feel uncomfortable. It is kind of like communicating/acting like a lion. A lion often roars and is aggressive when with others.
● Too little: This way is often very quiet or not communicating (saying nothing or very little, not sharing ideas, opinions, or feelings). This can cause others to feel confused and you are less likely to get what you need because people don’t understand what you need. This is kind of like communicating/acting like a mouse (running away, hiding, and being quiet). This is a passive way to communicate.
● Just right: This way isn’t too loud or quiet. It is using an important and courageous voice. It’s sharing ideas and also listening to ideas. It’s being able to share ideas, opinions, and feelings in an assertive and respectful manner. It is kind of like a friendly dog who you want to be around because it makes you feel happy and comfortable.
Suggestions for using this skill:
● Brainstorm a "too much", "too little", and "just right" ways of responding to typical situations; suggestions include:
1. Saying good morning to family members
2. Asking for a drink at dinner
3. Wanting a turn watching TV
● For younger children, it might be helpful to draw out the three possible responses to a chosen scenario to help highlight the differences.
● Part of responding to others in the just right way is being assertive (without being aggressive) in letting others know what you feel and need.
● Remind your child that using the "just right" approach is difficult, especially when our bodies begin to feel stressed or when we are going up on the 5-point scale. Remind your child of calming strategies available at home (break area, stuffed animal, drawing, etc.) to use. These will help calm the body so that the just right approach can be used.
● When noticing "too much" and "too little" responses, talk to you child in a neutral or nonjudgmental manner (I don’t think you meant to ask for that in a too much way but it came across that way because such a loud voice was used). Share with your child that you are pointing these things out to help them recognize how it can be perceived by others. Share that you know how polite and respectful your child is and you don’t want others to think differently.
It’s important to remember that all of us have a hard time using the "just right" approach all of the time. Especially during this uncertain time, it is typical that family members become stressed with each other and resort to too much (yelling, trying to be forceful, getting into others’ space) or too little (hiding out in a bedroom for extended periods of time, passively agreeing with what others suggest, not sharing their own feelings about things) ways of communicating.
As best you can, try to be aware of how members of your family are communicating during this time and use gentle reminders or I-messages (I feel upset when I hear you yelling at your brother, could we work together to come up with a "just right" way to tell him?).
Need extra support during these times? We have several openings for parents, teens and children above 10 for teletherapy appointments. Please contact us to set up an appointment.
Marissa Lloyd, LPCMH
Note: Some concepts adapted from the game TOO MUCH, too little, Just Right by Weiss, C., Singer, S., and Feigenbaum, L.