In my previous post I talked about the biological need (and that’s the key, this is not my opinion) for our children to be raised in both a highly emotionally connected environment and to sometimes experience Mindful Disconnection here: Connection and Disconnection: Optimal Parenting Part One.
The first thing I always check, if our kids behave as they shouldn’t, is what’s been going on for them. I wrote about identifying and dealing with different types of meltdowns here: Tantrums: Different Kinds need different Strategies.
Sometimes, I’m both dealing with the distress side of a tantrum and Mindfully Disconnecting to set a boundary. For example, I fully understand that a child with low blood-sugar needs feeding and it’s still not OK for him to belt his brother. (New visitors: I use his/he because I have three sons.)
Here are some brief ways that we Mindfully Disconnect with our kids when at the baby – age three stage.
These are ways we do things and are just suggestions. They work and don’t involve being ferocious, in most situations. The key is that Mindful Disconnection is not a time for explanation or reasoning. It’s a time for a not-intense, but firm, boundary. It’s a time for pretending that you are a rock. (You are immovable and silent once you’ve made your stand.)
Birth to Crawling: Almost None. What baby wants baby pretty well gets. Keeping in mind that his/her body language will tell you if s/he needs to sleep/eat/get away from Granny. Crying is last a ditch attempt at communication for babies.
However, when baby bites Mum’s boobs while feeding he needs his first Mindful Disconnection: hook your little finger into the side of his mouth and detach then and say firmly, No. Re-latch after a very brief pause. If baby bites again, do the same again. Do the same for other unacceptable behaviours like pulling hair (detach hands gently) and biting skin. Breaking eye-contact and saying, No, to biting can be enough with wee ones. Just make sure you do it every time.
Crawling to age three: Mostly none. Introducing “Uh-uh”, “No” and “Not for touching.” You don’t usually have to raise your voice much and you certainly don’t need to get angry. It’s all about getting off our bums and actually ‘doing’ boundaries at this stage (Yes, that’s two and a half years of active boundary setting). Examples:
1.Crawling baby approaches buttons on tele with intent to play, I say “Uh. Uh” or “Not for Touching” and shake my head. If baby persists, I’ll get up and move him and say, “Not for touching, buttons.” I’d do the same for pretty well anything else a baby wanted to touch, but it wasn’t appropriate for them to do so. (Some people put precious things away, some don’t – whatever works in your house.)
2. Toddler wants to go with Dad in the car, it isn’t appropriate. I say, “No you’re not going” and give a Boring Cuddle. ( Quick Way to Stop Children Fussing. ) As the car pulls out of the driveway, I sometimes say, “Yes you’re sad but you can handle it.” Then I’m silent again.
3. Toddler wants to go outside and look at the stars each time he stirs in the night. Once established crying-noises are not pain, hunger or thirst. I hold him in my arms (gently but firmly) and say a few times, “No going outside now, byes time.” Then I am silent, but hold him until he understands he’s not going anywhere and goes back to sleep. (Yes, you might have to repeat this through the night – the amount of fuss will shorten/lessen over time if you stick to your guns.)
4. Toddler reaches to turn on the hot tap. I say, “Uh. Uh” or “Not for touching” and physically move him away, perhaps into a different room.
5. Toddler doesn’t want to wear a sun-hat, I put it on his head every time he takes it off. Yep, 100 times in a day if I need to.
6. Toddler comes to me upset because Craig won’t let him use the battery drill. I say firmly, “Daddy’s allowed to say, No.” If he wants a hug I’ll give him that for emotional support but I’ll not give in to his request if Craig has said, No.
7. When he has been told several times not to tip milk into the drawers I might raise my voice, say “No” and glare/frown. I would definitely remove the cup from his hand and turn my body away from him.
8. Supermarket screaming? As long as you are sure it isn’t related to pain, hunger or thirst: no eye-contact and keep moving.
At this stage, I’m not using anything that looks like a Time-Out or ferocious discipline. This is the stage where I rarely finish a sentence or a meal. At the end of this stage I should be size tiny. Ha. Ha.
It is a PAINFUL stage for me, and it ends.
Sometimes just turning my body away or frowning is enough of a Mindful Disconnection. It’s about showing disapproval at the behaviour NOT the child. So, I am also mindful to reconnect with a Cug (Mr Butterfly’s word for cuddle/hug) and with positive eye-contact afterwards.
As long as you don’t give in when you have set the boundary, you can hug them as much as you want/they need.
Night separations are a big deal for children and are NOT the time for Mindful Disconnections. Night separation anxiety comes about because of their biological emotional need to be with us. They can’t help it. Our boys as small babies until the age of around 18 months slept on Craig’s chest in the lounge at night until I was ready to go to bed. From 18 months were settled in the family bed and if they woke one of us, usually me, would go to them and resettle them by lying next to them. Yes, it’s inconvenient.
Emotional support first. Set the boundary second: mindfully. Reconnect third.
Next lot of ideas can be found here: Mindful Disconnection – Practical Ideas Pt Two.
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