Consciously reflecting...

Last week I watched a webinar hosted by Dr Gutstein. The webinar was based around a case study involving a dad and his young son. It is always fascinating to be part of a webinar like this as I find real life stories very interesting. There is nothing like having a window into the experiences of another family. The information that Dr Gutstein gives is so rich and full and when applied to a real life scenario, his words become even more meaningful.

A real AHA moment for me was when Dr Gutstein made the following comment, "...operating on a conscious level". I took this comment to mean: Is your child in a state of consciousness? Is he thinking about what is happening around him? Is he monitoring, planning and evaluating? Is he consciously making decisions?

I decided to use this weekend to conduct a little experiment with my boy. 

We were going to hang out! No expectations or pressure in any form. In fact, if my boy wanted to be alone and do his own thing, well, that was also okay! I didn't plan any engagements that would encourage him to *think*. I wasn't particularly mindful about giving him opportunities to use his brain. My role was to observe him throughout the two days and assess whether he was actually operating on a conscious level without any input from me!

I watched him remove his pajamas and get dressed. There was no deviation from the normal procedure that happens every day of the week. I watched him as he took out the items needed for breakfast, lunch and supper. I watched him as he removed, placed and put away each item in the exact same manner as yesterday. I went along with it as he went through his ritual of signing his requests for all of his favorite things. 

For two days I watched my son.

Throughout the two days a couple of incidents stood out for me. #1 I was making him some juice and I spilled some water on the counter top. I said "Oops, what a mess, I need to clean it up". Mindfully, I waited. Nick went to collect a cloth and he then placed it on top of the mess! The end. #2 Nick was grumpy and for the first time ever was showing his displeasure. He stomped around the kitchen, banged his lunch items down on the table and also slammed a cupboard door. The end.

That's it folks. The sum total of any action which showed me that Nick was thinking differently. Everything else was all about established patterns, little routines that Nick knows off by heart. Regular stuff that happens every day in the same way. There was nothing new to observe, nothing that gave any indication to me that Nick was capable of deviating from doing what he knows and feels comfortable with.

The conclusion to my experiment is fairly obvious. Nick was not operating on a conscious level. There was very little evidence to suggest that he was using his brain to further his learning, to reflect on experiences, problem solve and so on and so forth. 

Please don't think that I am describing my son in a negative light, as this is not my intention. My reflections are about sharing my thoughts and spotlighting to myself the areas in which to focus on with Nick.

You see, Nick is extremely capable of being in a state of consciousness, however, at this stage of his development he needs the extra guidance from me. I need to offer him opportunities by creating planned engagements and by being mindful about my style of communication and also giving him the time to observe, process and react. 

This video clip was taken recently and is by no means perfect, however, I am thrilled that we have a lovely co-regulatory pattern going. We both have a role to play and Nick is really focused on what we are doing and he is also coordinating his actions with mine. There is room for improvement on my part and that is the beauty of watching my own video footage... I get to reflect, analyze and then plan my next step.

For interest sake, I also wasn't operating on a conscious level this past weekend!! :-) 

"Neurons that fire together wire together".  Donald Hebb


  1. I was very touched that he automatically picked up a cloth to help clean up the mess. Not something my Teen Boy would do!!

    There really does seem to be such a lovely relationship between you two, and he trusts you :-)

    xx Jazzy

    1. Jazzy, it actually blows my mind every time Nick observes a bit of a mess and he goes to clean it up! My other teen is just like your Teen Boy! Thanks for stopping by. I hope we are on for Ireland?? :)

  2. What an enlightening thing to consider! I might try this with Pamela. I can think of a moment in which she was in a state of consciousness, but do tell me if this is what you mean. For math, I have been showing Pamela how to use spreadsheets in the past week. She is pattern thinker, so I think she will love the power of spreadsheets once she learns what you can do with them. I have noticed her playing with spreadsheets: entering dates, pulling up old school schedules and modifying them, etc. She has told me several times, "I'm doing number magic" (the name of the Mac spreadsheet software is Numbers). Would consider that being in a state of consciousness?

  3. Walking.... I would say that Pamela is definitely operating on a conscious level. As soon as you said "old school schedules and modifying them"... I immediately did a little Snoopy dance!! Way to go Pamela! :-)

  4. very good post, glad I read it. do not think my little one is operating at a conscious level really either but that is to be expected I suppose however we are making good (albeit slow!!) progress. God love her, she started weekly 2 hr speech language sessions in school today. It must be so tiring and exhausting trying to learn something that just does not come naturally to you.
    Kats in Dublin

    1. Hi Kats,
      Thanks for reading my post! Great to hear that you all are making good progress.. slow is good, slow is meaningful! :)
      I am sure that it is exhausting for her, Nick also did a lot of speech therapy in the early days. Wow, awesome to hear that she gets the speech at school.

  5. Snoopy dancing across the pond, then!!!

  6. Ai I am not even sure that I often operate on a conscious level

  7. I read/watched yesterday through google reader and couldn't seem to comment..I often don't operate at a conscious level myself..One of my sons tells me that being in his head is more interesting than what is going on around him at the time. I loved the video-I loved watching how your son responds to you..pure love. :))

  8. Thank you for your comment, Kathleen. I am thinking that your son may just be right! :)

  9. Observing is so informative. I should do this....just too see and reflect on how things are going watch and learn right :).
    This was a lovely video


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