Creative Child

The Best-Kept Secret in Parenting

by Rebecca Eanes


Neufeld outlines the 6 stages of attachment in his book, Hold On To Your Kids, and those have been summarized here. I want to point out for this particular discussion stage 3 - belonging or loyalty.

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It is during this stage, which occurs around 3 years of age, where the child begins wanting to be good and do right for the parent if the attachment bond is strong. In stage 5, the child becomes very emotionally involved, giving his heart to whomever he’s attached. Neufeld says, “There is nothing more important to hold sacred than the child’s desire to be good for you…when we have a good relationship with somebody, we naturally desire to be good for them and make things work for them.”

This is where we have taken a dreadful wrong turn in our parenting, because when children begin to test boundaries, we act as though they do not want to be good for us, and we start using tricks and techniques that push them away rather than bringing them close. These techniques – time-out, removal of beloved items, and certainly spanking – make no sense when we understand that the relationship is the most significant factor of all.

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This knowledge makes parents then ask the question, “But how do I discipline? If time out and taking things away aren’t good, how to I stop bad behavior?” We ask because we are still looking for tricks! We have been so conditioned to believe that we must do something to the child to stop poor behavior that we cannot rest in the knowledge that a close, connected relationship will cause the child to want to behave.

This, of course, doesn’t absolve us from needing to teach our children how to manage their behavior – that is parenting – but the teaching is done in the context of the attachment. Point the child in the right direction (instill your values, show them what is expected, model well, talk about emotions and behavior) and make sure you have her heart. If you have her heart, you don’t need anything else.

Here is a 3 minute video of Dr. Gordon Neufeld explaining the effectiveness and consequences. There are several other helpful videos found at here.

Rebecca Eanes, is the founder of and creator of Positive Parenting: Toddlers and Beyond. She is the bestselling author of 3 books. Her newest book,Positive Parenting: An Essential Guide, is more than a parenting book, it's a guide to human connection. She has also written The Newbie's Guide to Positive Parentingand co-authored the book, Positive Parenting in Action: The How-To Guide to Putting Positive Parenting Principles in Action in Early ChildhoodShe is the grateful mother to 2 boys.


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