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It’s science: Having a secure attachment with your kids helps make them smarter

Responding to a distressed toddler with kindness and love may help them do better in school as a teen.

It’s science: Having a secure attachment with your kids helps make them smarter

We all want to give our kids a solid foundation for educational success. That’s why we read to them, to give them the language and literacy skills that will help them down the line. But it turns out reading isn’t all the only academic benefit little kids pick up from storytime snuggles: Reassurance in toddlerhood paves the way for better academic performance in their teen years.


According to a new study published in Psychological Science, children who have solid attachments to their primary caregiver at a young age develop better self-control, and that leads to better performance in school a decade later.

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This isn’t about attachment parenting or co-sleeping or baby-wearing. The study defines “sufficient attachment” as a parent responding to a distressed child in sensitive, loving and and reassuring ways, instead of ignoring or minimizing their problem. A kid who knows they’re going to get reassurance when expressing a negative emotion is considered securely attached to mom.

“Our work is the first to show that early mother-child attachment security triggers a meaningful cascade that significantly explains academic achievement over a decade later through its influence on effortful control,” the study’s authors wrote.

Basically, when parents consistently responded to the distress of very young kids (a group of 9-month olds and another of 2-3 year old toddlers) with kindness, they form a secure attachment with the parent, and a chain reaction of positive benefits was set off.

The researchers found the kids with the secure attachments did well in the next part of the study, which measured their “effortful control.” These children were able to resist the temptation to eat the Goldfish crackers in front of them until given the okay (which anyone with a toddler knows is very difficult, Goldfish are everything).

A decade later, these kids were the ones doing better on standardized tests as tweens and teens, and it all started with kind and gentle interactions with their primary caregiver.

According to the researchers, the takeaway for parents is this: Being better attached leads to better academic outcomes, so parents may want to make bonding a goal during infancy and toddlerhood.

A toddler whose distress is met with kindness may become the teen who brings home an A+.

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

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