Mirroring Monday – Throat Swab Edition

Start the week off right with examples of mirroring from the team at Connected Parenting. If you’re new to Connected Parenting and want to find out more about mirroring and the CALM method, check out this podcast by Jennifer Kolari (courtesy of Penguin Group USA).

This week’s Mirroring Moment is from Cindy Smolkin. Enjoy!

Cindy Smolkin ThumbnailOn Tuesday afternoon my son came down with a high fever and complained of a sore throat. By Thursday things hadn’t changed and it was time to go to see the pediatrician. While my son is a bit of an anxious boy, he actually is usually quite a great patient and we have a really great doctor. So when the doctor pulled out the oversized q-tip for the strep test, I didn’t immediately think anything of it. But then I looked at my son’s face and realized his horror. He quickly sealed his lips tightly shut, opening them only to cry, “I don’t want that. I can’t do that.” I knew the culture had to get done, but I also knew that it could not be forced if I ever planned on taking him to the doctor again. So I said:

“Of course you don’t want that. It looks like a big q-tip and you’ve had it before and you don’t want any part of it. I know you’ve told me that you don’t like what it feels like. I totally get it.”

He persisted to cry at which point his wonderful doctor busted out his own mirroring:

“It’s okay Manny. You’re scared. We’ll wait. No one will trick you or try to be sneaky. I’ll leave for a bit until you feel ready.”

So as I held my son and mirrored a bit more, I then did need to bring my agenda in…with absolute calm neutrality, I said,

“But the problem Manny is that you are sick. And it is my job and Dr. Goldbach’s job to keep you healthy. This test is important because it will tell us if you need special medicine. I love you and it is my job to take care of you. The sooner we get it done, the quicker we can get to the store to get those badminton rackets you wanted.”

And so, the doctor came back in, and my son had a 3-second flash of bravery. He opened his mouth for a half a second…just enough for my most skilled pediatrician to get the job done. And just enough for me to turn to Manny and say:

“You know that was hard because you were scared. But you used your bravery and you did it. Good for you.”

And yes…he had strep.

As Manny and I waited for the results of the strep culture, I wondered what would have to happen if the test wouldn’t take given that my son only let the doctor get in his mouth for a mere second.  I realized that it was unlikely that Manny would have agreed to do it again. So I posed my question to the doctor who replied that he would not “go to the wall” on this one-there will be other times when we might have to. He advised that if the test couldn’t be read, he would give me a prescription and advised that if the symptoms remained unchanged by the next day, to treat Manny with antibiotics.

The truth is, is that if the doctor, who I trust implicitly, would have felt it important to do the test again, I would have.  It would not have been easy, mirroring might not have worked, but I would have done what I had to do in the name of the health of my child. It probably would have gotten ugly…but I would have repaired the injury and we both would have been just fine.

Share your own favorite mirroring moment in the comments below. Or are you stumped? Feel free to leave a comment describing a situation you encountered where you couldn’t figure out how to mirror. We’ll try to incorporate it into a future Mirroring Monday post.

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Please remember that the advice given on this blog is not meant to replace medical advice or the direct advice of a mental health care professional.
"Connected Parenting advises us not just how to parent, but—far more important—who to be as parents. The therapeutic methods suggested by Jennifer Kolari are based not on simple-minded behavioural solutions, but on building warm, nurturing relationships with our children, with insight and compassion not only for their little flaws, but also for our own larger ones."
—Gabor Maté, M.D.

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