Say This, Not That by Ilana Kukoff and Jessica Huddy

Say This, Not That For September 25, 2019

Dear Ilana and Jess: Whenever I disagree with my daughter, she launches a full-blown shouting match. How can I prevent things from blowing up so quickly? – Charles

Dear Charles: First things first; you’re the parent, right? That means you take the lead in setting the tone and boundaries.

If your daughter is at the point of screaming, your first move is to disengage. You can do that by saying this: “We’re not going to talk if you’re screaming. Let’s take 10 and come back to this.” To make sure the message sticks, walk out of the room. Set a timer on your phone or watch and relocate your daughter when the 10 minutes are up. You can restart the conversation by guiding her directly: “Okay, let’s restart. I want you to tell me in a conversational voice what’s bothering you.” If your daughter seems flustered, you can give her the language she needs to express herself. For example: “It’s clear that you’re angry with me because I said no to the party this weekend. You can say to me directly, ‘Dad, I’m really mad that you said, ‘no.’ The party is going to be fun and a lot of my friends are going.’ Then, I’d be happy to talk more about why the answer is, ‘no,’ and see if we can come up with some alternatives.”

If your daughter begins screaming again, the process repeats. After two or three attempts, you may need to dissolve the conversation entirely. To do that, say this: “It’s clear that this topic is still too emotional. We’ll try again tomorrow.” While your daughter may not like this response, you’re teaching her what is and is not acceptable communication. Boundaries are often resisted, but they’re in place for a reason.

Finally, remember that not every grievance warrants a discussion. Sometimes, the answer is just, “no.”

Say This: “We’re not going to talk if you’re screaming. Let’s take 10 and come back to this.”

Not That: Any response involving shouting back.

Say This, Not That is based on the work of Cognition Builders: a global, educational company headed by Ilana Kukoff (Founder & CEO) and Jessica Yuppa Huddy (Chief Learning Officer). Everywhere from New York City to California to Shanghai to Zurich, the Cognition Builders team is called upon by A-list entertainers, politicians, CEOs, and CFOs to resolve the conflicts that upend everyday life. When their work is done, the families they serve are stronger than ever. With their new book, Say This, Not That To Your Teenage Daughter Kukoff and Yuppa Huddy have selected the most common conversational mistakes parents make, and fixed them. For more information, please visit: To purchase Say This, Not That To Your Teenage Daughter visit: