To intervene or not intervene:- a Supermarket Story

A mother had her 3 year old son sitting in the handbag section of a Woolworth’s trolley. As I entered Woolies, I could already hear him…he was screaming.  Mother was calm, and speaking to him quietly.  As I walked past, I gave both mum and boy a ‘Helllooo’ and touched the boy on the arm, in an attempt to distract him.  He looked and kept crying.  At that very moment, he said to his mother: “I don’t want to be here!’

Some three minutes later, from the furthest corner of Woolies, I could still hear his scream.  ‘Ummmh!….will I or won’t I?’  I found them in Aisle 3.  Mother was still speaking to him calmly while loading the trolley.

The conversation enfolded:

Me:- “Hello again….I met you several minutes ago.  Something is still the matter.”

Mother:- ‘Yes…something is still the matter”  (smiling)

Me: -“Ummh1….I walked past you three minutes ago and you were crying then, and you are still crying now…so I guess you are still unhappy about something.   Just as I walked past you, I heard you say:  ‘I don’t want to be here.’    I am wondering if I heard you correctly.   By the way, my name is Robert,  and your name is…..?”

Boy:- “I don’t have one’…then reaches out for mother in an attempt to get away from me.

Mother:- “Jack…Jack is his name’

Me: –  “Jack…nice to meet you…being here in a supermarket, shopping with mummy is just sooooo boring.  You prefer to be somewhere else…where you can do something else, like playing with your toys…the toys you got for Christmas…that Santa brought you.”

Boy:- (crying stopped…he just looks)

Me:- “…and sitting here in this trolley is not as fun as playing with your toys.”

Boy:- (Nods a ‘no.’)

Me:- “Well Mum….let’s finish off the shopping really really quickly so you can get home….so, I won’t talk to you anymore so that mum can whiz down the aisle and finish the shopping.  Nice to meet you…Bye!”

Outcome:- crying/screaming stopped, he returned my goodbye wave.  Some five minutes later, we met again in an adjacent checkout, and Jack was calm and collected.   We waved at each other again.

PET in Action.   Every situation is a PET Situation.   Story that can be used in Session 2 or 3.

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