A tricky situation came up for the Navigator while playing a game on an online server. He was asked questions by another player, questions that made him uncomfortable and he was not sure how to handle them.
We decided that we would come up with some scripts he could keep next to his computer – “canned” answers for what we guessed would be the most common questions.
This would give him tools he could use when the questions came up, the ability to handle the situation without necessarily coming to me, (though he can still do that, too, of course), and at the same time support his developing social independence.
I did this because being asked a question is a kind of social peer pressure for him and I wanted to approach it from that aspect first.
Part of his stress when he was asked the uncomfortable questions was discomfort with not answering the questions asked of him. I think it is part of his inherent honesty that he didn’t like leaving a question directed to him unanswered.
Some of the recommendations on the peer pressure websites were not helpful to us because they assumed a situation where peer pressure was taking place face-to-face, instead of online.
The ones that applied best were:
- Don’t make excuses – if you want to say “no” just say “no”
- Suggest something else to do
- Make a joke
- Change the subject
- Remember who you are
- Walk away
In tricky situation, a girl asked him to be her boyfriend and he was worried about not hurting her feelings. He also told me that he wanted the responses to sound like him.
I wanted him to have multiple responses to choose from in case someone was persistent and didn’t take “no” the first time.
Taking into consideration not hurting anyone’s feelings, communicating in his voice, and having options to choose, from here’s what we came up with (shared with his permission):
What is your name?
- My name is [online user name].
- I don’t tell anyone my name online.
- Why do you want to know?
How old are you?
- I am a kid.
- I don’t tell anyone my age online.
- I am too young to share my name online.
What grade are you in? What school do you go to?
- I am in elementary school.
- I don’t tell anyone what grade I am in or what school I go to online.
- I go to the University of the Black Hole – basically it is a university inside a black hole. Nobody can get there.
Where do you live? What city? What state? What country?
- I don’t tell anyone online where I live.
- I live on the planet Earth, Solar System, the Milky Way, the Local Group, the Universe.
Do you want to be my boyfriend?
I am too young, but I am happy to be friends!
We had fun coming up with these answers, and I think he developed a good mix of the “just say no” answers along with making jokes. Because he came up with these answers, it should help him “remember who he is” when he uses them.
He may also be able to deflect by changing the subject and suggesting other things to do, depending on the context of the online situation.
What other ways can you think of to answer uncomfortable questions?