Mindful Disconnection – Another Story

We arrived home Thursday afternoon and Mr Owl (aged six) hopped out of the car and went to play up a tree in our front yard.

I released Mr Butterfly (aged 21 months) from his car-seat and took my things inside. 

I came back. I took Mr Owl’s backpack and spare clothing out of the car. I took them over to where he was playing and put them on the ground near him.

In a normal, conversational, non-threatening voice, I said, “These need to be sorted.” And I walked away. (Thinking we’ve got half an hour before we have to be anywhere, that gives him plenty of time.)

I went inside and carried on with what I had to do.

Mr Owl immediately hopped out of the tree; picked up his things; took his bag inside and put it where it goes each night; and then took his extra clothing and put them in the washing-basket.

“Thanks!” I called to him as he left to play in his tree again.

“You’re welcome!” He called back.

Key One: We aren’t naturally tidy people, but we do have set places for the boys’ stuff.

Key Two: None of this is new for him. He’s done these things with instruction for at least three years already.

Key Three: We have a strong emotional bond and he wants to please me.

Key Four: He knows that I won’t rescue him and do the jobs for him. He knows that he will still have to sort these things out regardless of what else is going on.

Key Five: I used Mindful Disconnection immediately after I gave an instruction in a normal every day voice.

Key Six: This was an easy task for him to complete alone and appropriate for his age.

The series on Mindful Disconnection begins here: Connection and Disconnection: Optimal Parenting Part One.

(This is officially how I help put food on the table. If you’ve found this article useful, please feel free to use the Koha button just above my blogroll. Even the smallest amount is appreciated. 🙂 )


About Karyn @ kloppenmum

kloppenmum is me, Karyn Van Der Zwet, mother of three and ex-teacher. I'm part of a revolution in parenting, with the aim to raise mature (not sophisticated) and self-assured children. I also know some stuff about adults. I have also had articles printed in The Journal for The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (Children and Young People) and the US parenting magazine, Pathways to Family Wellness, as well I regularly write for World Moms Blog (named as one of the Forbes 100 most useful blogs for women 2012 &2013). You can follow me on facebook (kloppenmum) pinterest (Karyn at Kloppenmum) and twitter (@kloppenmum). I'm also vaguely on LinkedIn (Karyn Van Der Zwet). Thanks to Joe (Mr Hare) for taking the photo. Cheers, son: xxxx.
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9 Responses to Mindful Disconnection – Another Story

  1. More instructive to have him carry the light load from car into house accompanied by verbal instructions if necessary. Two, as an aside, the desire to please is exclusive of emotional bonding. It’s nice if you two have it as you indicate but be aware that people-pleasing is wholly independent and/or exclusive of emotional bonds. Or put another way, emotional bonding does not preclude the inclination to people please.

    • Hi Allycat,
      #1 The point of this was to show how parents could use Mindful Disconnection. For the reason of developing great Executive Function I want our children to take on as much thinking about what is required as possible and not be reliant on instructions. He had disappeared from the car and was up the tree before I could have given him an instruction anyway.
      #2 Much like the use of mimicry in toddlers; I think parent-pleasing in babies and children is a function of innate trust; and adult people-pleasers are often those for whom the parent-child bond was erratic causing an addictive approach to relationships (overwhelming others and/or being intrusive emotionally) and not trusting the self – the person wants to feel the emotional connection which they missed as a baby/child and have yet to resolve, and is bound by, unuseful patterns from the past. When an adult people-pleaser engages with others they do so because they feel a bond with the other which is often not returned by the other. The bond is there, but probably one sided.

  2. Fiona says:

    Was glad to see your comments on my blog tonight – after hearing of the tornado and earthquake that have hit NZ, I was reassured that you and your family were safe. I’m not sure where you are in relation to either of these incidents but was thinking of you when I heard.

  3. Li-ling says:

    I like your example here Karyn, especially how you stated your expectation in a non-threatening manner. A part of me though is inclined to agree with AllyCat. We often come home with a loaded car, not necessarily from shopping, but just stuff we have carted around all day – snack bags, G’s handbags etc. I have started expecting her to bring them down from the car herself, and often remind her once we get in to the house that they have to be put away,

    I can see where you are going with the parent-pleasing, which yes I agree to some extent is a result of a valuable bond with adults. However, in a cultural context though, I have seen (and in truth, experienced) a lot of resentment in people pleasing, simply because of societal/parental/outside expectations – which goes back to Allycat’s point of people pleasing need not necessarily be related to emotional bonding.

    As always, thanks for sharing.

    • Hi Li-ling,
      Always good to hear from you. The timing of the instructions was never the point of the post, it was what happened after the instructions which is important for understanding MD.
      I do want to make the distinction between parent-pleasing which I consider to be a normal and healthy part of the parent-child emotional bond when children are, well, children and people-pleasing – which I believe comes about due to a certain kind of fracture to the parent-child bond. (A book in itself.)
      People-pleasers I feel do have an emotional bond with the person they are trying to please – but it is often one-sided or even abused by the other. I agree that there can be resentment at the tie – but I think it’s there nevertheless. And I am willing to accept that we may be talking about cultural differences with people-pleasing. So hard to really understand each other in writing short paragraphs sometimes. 🙂

  4. Laura says:

    I just like reading that your Owl child was in a tree.

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