“I’m Listening….”

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“Cate, please make your bed.”


“Cate, please brush your teeth before school.”


“Cate, it is time to eat dinner.”


“Cate, please move over a bit.  I need to get by.”


“Cate – PLEASE – go to BED!”




The word is on repeat here.

Cate’s transition to school is still in progress.  The honeymoon period is over and things are settling into place.  As Cate is adjusting she has returned to crying, multiple times each day, at school and at home.

  • When Catelyn fell to the ground laughing and the teacher told her she needed to calm down, she cried.
  • When the teacher stood behind her during a test to encourage her to look at her answer again, she cried.
  • Peer interactions, with friends and with non-friends, have ended with Cate sitting by herself and crying.

Crying is Cate’s initial response when she is taken off guard.  Instead of stopping to think about her situation, Cate reacts with tears.

My husband and I are left trying to figure out what Catelyn is experiencing.  Is she having a hard time being flexible in different situations?  Is she having a hard time interacting with her peers?  Her teacher?  Are some of the girls just mean?

We are working out the details.  And Cate is still actively working in therapy.

And even though Cate is currently a big ball of negativity – that never leaves my side – I’m thankful.

I am not thankful that she is feeling bad.

I am thankful that she is talking to me about what is happening.

So far this year, the teacher is not reaching out to me to complain about Cate in the class.  Nor is the guidance counselor calling me telling me about the peer interactions that have gone sour.

Cate is telling me.  Which is a pretty big deal.


Cate’s issue with crying in school has been an issue for a few years now.  As well as Cate’s interaction with peers.  We have worked with the school on both issues to try to help Cate.

It gets to the point that when Cate has another incident in one of these areas, mentally I am screaming, “WHAT?!?!  AGAIN?!?!  STOP IT!!!”

But I don’t say that.  Or even hint that I am thinking that.

Instead I try,

“Oh no.  I’m sorry.  What happened?”

I know it sounds pretty basic.  But when I am upset, frustrated, sad – EMOTIONAL –  about what Cate tells me, the more she will shut down and not tell me anything.

A few years ago Declan’s Occupational Therapist recommended the following book to me:



I picked it up, read it and have it on my nightstand in my pile of books.  As the books I read rotate in and out, this one stays there as I reference it occasionally as a reminder on how to communicate with the kids.

More importantly, how to listen so the kids will talk to me.

Two years ago, Catelyn became depressed.  She was being bullied at school.  I knew at a very high level what was happening, but that was all she would relate.  Instead, she chose to spend her days in her room alone.  And cried all the time.

I am very thankful that Cate is opening up to me more.  She is telling me what is happening in her day.  She lets me know if she cried.  She lets me know if someone was mean to her at school.  And even though I can detect where Cate might have made an error – either in her behavior or her processing of an event – I never call her on it in a way that will cause her to shut down.

Being more aware of Cate’s day helps me help her.  I can try to direct her or encourage her in a positive direction.  I can stand up for her and support her when confronted.  I can have a relationship with her and be active in her life.

It is hard for Cate to communicate.  She does not always have the words to describe how she feels (hence the crying).  But my being open and calm is helping her to find words to discuss her life with me.  As she gets older, I can only imagine some things will get harder.  But I am glad to have found this book and hope to find it just as helpful in the years to come.



photo credit: JoanDragonfly N02/34336889304″>Auditory Learner via photopin (license)


23 thoughts on ““I’m Listening….”

  1. 95% of the battle with kiddos (ND or NT) is getting them to talk. You’ve SOOO got this! I’m sorry Cate is having a rough time.Ben is still having a lot of problems too and it’s emotionally and physically draining. Hang in there my friend! Sending hugs💌💌💌💌

  2. “I am thankful that she is talking to me about what is happening.” I know exactly how you feel. The biggest sign that Snerfle was doing better as a result of changing schools was the morning he was anxious about something (non-school related it turned out), and he actually told me what it was! And let me comfort him! And let me help him work out a plan to deal with it! It was kind of surreal but in a good way.

    1. Oh, that’s great! So glad that he was able to tell you what was bothering him as well – and to help problem solve. That is wonderful. Not knowing what is wrong, but seeing the anxiety or depression is so frustrating. It is such a blessing when they can tell us what they are experiencing!

  3. I really can’t wait for the day when our boy talks to one of us about what is bothering him. This is something we face too. Hang in there I feel your frustrations and, you’ve got this!!

    1. I agree – I am so thankful she is telling me. She got so depressed before and she couldn’t express herself. Now she is disagreeable, but talking. I’ll take it. Thinking of your daughter and granddaughter. Sending them good thoughts!

  4. she cannot stand the pressure at school. The crying is a result of powerlessness. maybe you could ask her if she feels like being obliged to behave in certain ways. The “no” towards you can be an automatic defensive reaction

    1. Oh yes, she hates school. I definitely feel like it overwhelms her. Not academically, but in pretty much all other aspects. When she doesn’t think before she acts, she is making mistakes that are effecting the whole class. For example, she got excited and interrupted a class game by intercepting a paper ball. The teacher took 3 reward marbles out of the class jar for her mistake. Then some members of the class (not all, because she does have a few friends) got mad at her. Some mean girl behavior comes out later, targeting Catelyn outside of the classroom. When she does well, the girls work with her and are nice to her. So yes, I agree, she does have to be super conscious of herself and work hard to behave to the class norm. I agree about the “no.” I don’t take that too seriously. I know it is just an initial response. I am aware that she never leaves my side. I must bring some comfort to her, So I try to focus on that and accept the negativity. Otherwise she would leave and not talk to me. I wouldn’t know what was happening and just wonder, “why is she being so difficult?”

      1. what do you think – why she sometimes doesn’t think before she acts? maybe there is something which can help her?
        and about the “no” you’re absolutely right. She has to react somehow on the pressure around and you are the most confidential and closest person to her. The one she can trust the most. So she will always react in the hardests way towards you. But this is her way to keep the balance – between the pressure outside home and the place where she can jump in to the other extreme (to keep the balance)

        1. Catelyn gets overstimulated easily and is very impulsive. She gets so caught up in how something feels that she leaves thinking behind at times. Impulsivity and autism is a subject I was planning on writing about as there can be a connection, and it is something we definitely see in Catelyn and Declan. I agree about the “no” – I take the brunt of negativity from Cate, but it helps her maintain balance. And that’s okay with me!

          1. I find it very interesting what you say: “so caught up in how something feels that she leaves thinking behind at times”. The base of functioning of our society is rational thinking but actually we as humans develop more and more towards feelings and intuition. It must be difficult for her. i wish you both all the best.

  5. Do you think it’s too late to use your listening book with my 12 year old? Getting him to talk about anything is impossible. If he wants to talk about a subject, he’ll go on forever… but ask “How was your day?” and he goes off.

    1. Every now and again I get together with the lady friends for dinner. Our oldest boys are the same age and they brought us moms together as a group. Anyway, at these dinners they talk about the “Oh my gosh, did you hear what happened AFTER xyz….” Me, I am always “What was xyz?” Since Bobby always tells me school was “fine.” When I go home from these dinners and ask him about all the xyz’s, he says, “oh yeah, that happened….” He just never tells me. He tells me ALL ABOUT sneakers. He is a sneaker head and will talk sneakers in and out. But events in his day do not phase him. Then one day last year he came up to me and told me, “Mom….I’m in love!” I realized that I was holding a precious gift in my hands with him confiding in me, and I walked oh so cautiously in that conversation where I was only filled with smiles and excitement for him. The issues that happen at school, happened around him. Not too much bothers Bobby, so I guess he doesn’t feel the need to talk about the details of his day. But maybe the book helped me with him as well – in that he realized he could talk to me about something big.
      It is an easy read – a lot of the examples of conversations are illustrated in a comic book type format. I got mine used from ebay for $4. Sorry so long – I guess the shorter version is, I don’t think it is too late. Bobby will be 12 in a few weeks. And I found benefit.

  6. Thank you Robyn. This is a lovely post and tells me a lot about how to communicate properly with people generally, not just children. I get frustrated and stressed when people don’t understand me or don’t want to communicate their feelings. This has helped.

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