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Kids not listening? They might be craving a deeper connection—to you

You cannot truly care for a child who has not given their heart to you.

Kids not listening? They might be craving a deeper connection—to you

A father sat in my office, visibly upset that his 7-year-old son wasn’t listening to him. He recounted challenge after challenge with his son, from leaving the park to getting dressed in the morning, from eruptions of frustration to bedtime battles.


Exasperated, the father looked at me and asked, “Why would any child follow any parent in the first place?” It was a good question and one I couldn’t answer without making sense of attachment first.

Attachment science is the name given to the study of human relationships. Attachment is how we root our children to a secure base, create a sense of belonging and significance, and nourish them.

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What the father of the 7-year old boy didn’t understand was that all of the unrelated challenges he was having with his son stemmed from his relationship with him. Focusing on his son’s behavior would not reveal the answers he needed—it was when he started to understand what happened to their relationship that he could start to make headway with him.

Here are five crucial things to understand about attachment:

1. Understand that attachment is a two-way street

When parents consider how strong their attachment is with a child, they often reflect on how much they love their child or want to be around them. But attachment is not just a matter for the parent but for a child too.

We often fail to take a step back and consider whether a child is attached to their parent and if so—how deeply?

Without a strong relationship there is little capacity for a parent to harness a child’s instincts to follow, obey and adopt the same values, or seek help from their adults.Instead of being able to lead a child, a parent may face constant eruptions of frustration, resistance and opposition, as well as bossy and commanding behaviour.

When assessing how good our relationship is we should consider it through the eyes of our child. The answer for the father who asked me why a child would follow a parent was attachment. It is a child’s love for us that empowers us in our caretaking role.

You cannot truly care for a child who has not given their heart to you.

2. Realize that separation is the most impactful of all experiences

Attachment is the greatest need a child has. Therefore separation is one of the most impactful of all experiences. Separation is especially provocative for young children because of their immaturity and high dependency needs.

The experience of separation can stir up primal emotions in a child—hey may cling or clutch, erupt in frustration, or exhibit fear and anxiety, well after the separation has occurred.

The answer is to ensure wherever they go, they are attached to the adults who will care for them—from teachers to extended family members— is connection.

Connection is key when leaving them with others. Attachment and separation are two sides of the same coin, that is, our children only miss the people they desire to be close to. (Don’t we all?)

3. See your relationship as a shield to protect against emotional wounding

One of the challenges for kids is the range of emotions and feelings they experience, with the capacity to be hurt and wounded deeply. Being rejected, not loved or cared for, can be wounding to the heart, but this is offset by a caring relationship with an adult.

When a child cares more about what an adult sees in them, the wounding ways of their peers and other adults is less likely to hurt as deep.

The key to resilience and surviving stress and adversity in kids relies on the availability of at least one strong caring emotionally available adult who can comfort, provide a sense of consistency, warmth and guidance, and who will invite tears or sadness when necessary.

The reason children need to be attached to adults is that it gives that adult the capacity to preserve and protect the emotional health in a child.

4. Consider the instinct to detach instead of attach

Just as human beings come with instincts to seek connection with others, they also come with instincts to detach when the threat of separation or wounding is present. If caring about someone or something sets you up to get hurt, the brain can reverse the attachment instincts and lead the child to push away from that adult.

For example, the father in my office discussed how his son held him in contempt, did the opposite of what he was told, mocked, defied, countered, or talked back, or in other words—parenting had become a nightmare.

When a child detaches, the type of behavior that ensues can be very difficult to manage and usually creates more separation between the adult and the child. The goal is to focus on restoring the relationship while at the same time, having to deal with behaviour that is challenging and provocative.

5. And don’t forget about the depersonalization of attachment

Attachments can become depersonalized, meaning that instead of seeking contact and closeness, there is a turn to less personal forms of connection. Someone could move to collect belongings rather than seek a sense of belonging to someone. Someone could seek significance in groups, workplaces, through their constant achievements or striving, or through social media—all of which are one step removed from a close social bond with an individual.

Depersonalized attachments are an attempt by the brain to move someone towards connecting with others, but in ways that are less vulnerable and provide a buffer zone against the potential wounding from separation.

It is too often the case that when our children act in ways that defy understanding or are uncivilized, we are quick to focus directly on their behavior. What gets missed is that the child’s attachment needs and the emotional issues that drive the most problematic behavior.

While we cannot condone uncivilized behaviour from our kids, we can move to protect the relationship as well as use it to help influence and guide a child in a different direction.

If we treated the biggest problems we have with our kids as attachment issues, we would likely be closer to the root cause, and closer to making headway in the right direction with them.

14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$179

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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I never wanted to be a mom. It wasn't something I ever thought would happen until I fell madly in love with my husband—who knew very well he wanted children. While he was a natural at entertaining our nephews or our friends' kids, I would awkwardly try to interact with them, not really knowing what to say or do.

Our first pregnancy was a surprise, a much-wanted one but also a unicorn, "first try" kind of pregnancy. As my belly grew bigger, so did my insecurities. How do you even mom when you never saw motherhood in your future? I focused all my uncertainties on coming up with a plan for the delivery of my baby—which proved to be a terrible idea when my dreamed-of unmedicated vaginal birth turned into an emergency C-section. I couldn't even start motherhood the way I wanted, I thought. And that feeling happened again when I couldn't breastfeed and instead had to pump and bottle-feed. And once more, when all the stress from things not going my way turned into debilitating postpartum anxiety that left me not really enjoying my brand new baby.

As my baby grew, slowly so did my confidence that I could do this. When he would tumble to the ground while learning how to walk and only my hugs could calm him, I felt invincible. But on the nights he wouldn't sleep—whether because he was going through a regression, a leap, a teeth eruption or just a full moon—I would break down in tears to my husband telling him that he was a better parent than me.

Then I found out I was pregnant again, and that this time it was twins. I panicked. I really cannot do two babies at the same time. I kept repeating that to myself (and to my poor husband) at every single appointment we had because I was just terrified. He, of course, thought I could absolutely do it, and he got me through a very hard pregnancy.

When the twins were born at full term and just as big as singleton babies, I still felt inadequate, despite the monumental effort I had made to grow these healthy babies and go through a repeat C-section to make sure they were both okay. I still felt my skin crawl when they cried and thought, What if I can't calm them down? I still turned to my husband for diaper changes because I wasn't a good enough mom for twins.

My husband reminded me (and still does) that I am exactly what my babies need. That I am enough. A phrase that has now become my mantra, both in motherhood and beyond, because as my husband likes to say, I'm the queen of selling myself short on everything.

So when my babies start crying, I tell myself that I am enough to calm them down.

When my toddler has a tantrum, I remind myself that I am enough to get through to him.

When I go out with the three kids by myself and start sweating about everything that could go wrong (poop explosions times three), I remind myself that I am enough to handle it all, even with a little humor.


And then one day I found this bracelet. Initially, I thought how cheesy it'd be to wear a reminder like this on my wrist, but I bought it anyway because something about it was calling my name. I'm so glad I did because since day one I haven't stopped wearing it.

Every time I look down, there it is, shining back at me. I am enough.

I Am Enough bracelet 

SONTAKEY  I Am Enough Bracelet

May this Oath Bracelet be your reminder that you are perfect just the way you are. That you are enough for your children, you are enough for your friends & family, you are enough for everything that you do. You are enough, mama <3

$35

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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The American Academy of Pediatrics says that newborns, especially, do not need a bath every day. While parents should make sure the diaper region of a baby is clean, until a baby learns how to crawl around and truly get messy, a daily bath is unnecessary.

So, why do we feel like kids should bathe every day?

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