Over the last few months I took a developmental psychology class online.

I have always been so fascinated by the effect that an intentional mother can have on her children, and decided to get to work doing a little research as to how attachment in infants and toddlers affects their development.

In my class I learned all about the famous developmental psychologists from Freud and his eros vs. tantos unconscious desires to John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth (my favorites) and their theories about how the quality of attachment in life begins from infancy.

Studies upon studies show that caregiving systems (families) dramatically influence the development and emotional well-being of children.

To me this reaffirms the the beauty of ‘BEING THERE” for our children, emotionally, physically, mentally.

Mothers are incredibly powerful. (Sometimes I need a good reminder of that when I’m feeling invisible…does anyone else feel that way sometimes??)

Oh, I have lots more to say about that attachment theory at some point, but for now I just want to talk about one of my favorite take-aways from the class:

I LOVED the theory of the “welcoming response.”

My class talked about how important a positive “welcoming response” is for children: for caregivers (usually a mother) to light up when their child comes into a room.

This led me to think about how my own personal “welcoming response” is going. I mean, if a welcoming response is that important for the development of a baby, it is probably pretty darn important for a teenager as well, right? And what about for a husband? Gosh, that welcoming response can change the tune of a whole day. (I will add here that Bo Jangles is particularly talented at the “welcoming response,”…sometimes I think she just may spontaneously combust she is so over-the-moon excited when we walk in the door!).

Anyway, all this made me think I should probably bump my “welcoming responses” up a notch or two. Sometimes when my kids walk in the door I am so busy doing x. y. or z that I neglect to light up to show them how awesome it is to have them around. That they matter. That they are important.

I love this picture of Claire exhibiting the perfect welcome response:


Of course, we may not all be able to be quite as exuberant as Claire is all the time (or Bo Jangles for that matter), but I have made a more conscious effort to welcome these people I cherish more than anything else in the world appropriately when they walk into the space where I am. And I think I really like where it’s taking us.

Just some random thoughts for a Tuesday.


Similar Posts


  1. Would you mind sharing the other pearls of wisdoms you gained in your class?! I sure would enjoy reading your insights.

    1. Hi Tracy! It was a class on EdX…they have so many good things to learn there! The class I took was called Developmental Psychology: A Journey of Growth in Relationships, and another one I am taking is called The Best Start in Life: Early Childhood Development for Sustainable Development. It’s free and I have learned so much!

    2. Oh sorry, there was someone else who asked which class I took, not you! Sorry! I will definitely share more pearls from what I learned. So many things to think about!

    3. I love this post and the one there about normal days. Could you recommend some books about this topic?
      Thanks a lot,

      Mar from spain

  2. “ Mothers are incredibly powerful. (Sometimes I need a good reminder of that when I’m feeling invisible…does anyone else feel that way sometimes??)”

    Yes – I feel invisible a lot! Not so much when it comes to “welcoming” responses from my husband or child or anyone for that matter… but in regards to every day, mundane tasks. Like the dish left on the counter, when the dishwasher is empty. Yep, I load it in there instead of leaving it. Stuff like that. Things magically go where they should, things get put away, or empty Amazon boxes left on our counter get broken down and put where they should.

    Re: welcome response – I guess I’ve been practicing that with my toddler without realizing it! Care in point – I am up with the proverbial roosters, and my son usually wakes up 1-2 hours after I do. When he comes out of his room, I meet him in the hallway (we still have a video monitor so I can see when he’s stirring), give him a big smile and “good morning”, and we hug. He’s such a nice way to start the day!

    1. I feel the kind of invisible you do! I feel you!

      And I love hearing about your welcoming response…such a beautiful start to the day!

  3. I love this! I’d be so interested to hear more and about this class! What school/organization was it through?

    For the last two years or so, I’ve always made an effort to “welcome” my honey home when he walks through the door, since I work from home. I was worried he’d think I was crazy at first, but it never came off as weird or insincere. I’ve noticed he does it back now too 🙂 It’s really helped us to have more intentional evenings, which has improved our relationship even more.

    1. Love this! I told about what “school” I’m doing it through up in response to the first question, and I’ll have to post more soon. I love how contagious a “welcoming response” can be, as it sounds like has happened with your husband 🙂

    2. I noticed this with a cousin I was visiting once, but it was opposite… she hardly acknowledged him and was practically aloof/so unemotional. I thought that was so odd and felt kind of uncomfortable as well as sorry for the hubby getting no attention upon coming home from work… I wasn’t married at the time and made a mental note to give a warm welcome when my husband walked in the door… they were married for a good 18 years and recently divorced.

  4. I needed to hear this today and I need to be more aware of how I’m greeting my teenagers (and husband). Thank you for the advice and giving me something to think about!

  5. I love this, Shawni. Two things I wanted to share: 1) whenever I go visit my parents, my mom RUNS to the door screaming “woooo she’s here!!!” And it makes me feel like a million bucks every time. A “cool” response is so deflating and mom is never cool 😉 And 2) I read somewhere that the most important 9 minutes of a child’s day are (a) the first three minutes they are greeted when they wake up in the morning (b) the first three minutes they are greeted when they come home from school and (c) the last three minutes they are held before going to sleep. It’s one of my favourite pieces of mothering advice I’ve heard so far in my short mothering career. Thought it would resonate with you. Xo

    1. I love this. A couple years back my daughter’s 13 year-old best friend passed away suddenly in the middle of the night. While sitting with her mother in the hospital in the middle of all the heaviness, grief and sadness she said to me, “It’s oaky, we had a good night. We had fun before she went to bed. She went to bed happy.” I cannot tell you how much I’ve thought about those words! What if it was the last 3 minutes I had to speak to my child! You have learned some valuable wisdom in your short mothering career! Mine are 15, 18 and 20 and I could have done better!

    2. Oh goodness I love these comments. I love your mom’s welcome…my sister has a good one too, her arms are always open WIDE for a hug when we reunite. It feels so good to be welcomed! And I LOVE the thoughts about the “most important 9 minutes” and so agree. Thank you for sharing!

  6. Thank you for this wonderful reminder. I too have teenagers, two boys that sometimes drive me crazy from the minute they walk in the door. But oh how that may change if I tried a little harder with my welcoming response.

    1. Love these thoughts. Teenagers are often trickier to melt into when they get home, but as I have worked on my “8-second hugs” with them, man alive it changes so many things for the better!

  7. Shawni, I have 3 adopted children–one of whom was horribly abused and violated in every way possible the first 4 years of his life. That abuse and neglect has caused irreparable damage and resulted in Reactive Attachment Disorder. I’m not sure if you discussed RAD in your class, but it is a heartbreaking condition for all involved.

    1. I haven’t learned about that but probably did back in my college social work days. That really does sound heartbreaking, I’m so sorry for that child of yours! Hoping you find some ways to ease that pain and heartbreak. Sending lots of love your way!

  8. I love that you and your parents are such proponents of education and lifelong learning! Taking classes as a middle age adult is so different than as a young one. Your life experience can really enrich your learning now (as this example shows)

    1. It really is so different! I remember some older moms who took one of my social work classes when I was in college. I was so impressed with how many questions they asked and how much they absorbed. Kind of fun to be in their position now, just thirsting for all the knowledge I can get!

  9. Your post reminded me of this: Toni Morrison’s words are so heavy with truth that one sentence can bring you to your knees or set you free. Her writing challenged me, taught me, and nurtured me. And, Toni Morrison changed the way I’m raising my children.

    It was May of 2000 and Ellen was just shy of her first birthday. Morrison was on Oprah talking about her book The Bluest Eye. Oprah said, “Toni says a beautiful thing about the messages that we get about who we are when a child first walks into a room,” and she asked her to talk about it.

    Toni Morrison explained that it’s interesting to watch what happens when a child walks into a room. She asked, “Does your face light up?”

    She explained, “When my children used to walk in the room when they were little, I looked at them to see if they had buckled their trousers or if their hair was combed or if their socks were up. You think your affection and your deep love is on display because you’re caring for them. It’s not. When they see you, they see the critical face. What’s wrong now?”

    Her advice was simple, but paradigm-shifting for me. She said:

    “Let your face speak what’s in your heart. When they walk in the room my face says I’m glad to see them. It’s just as small as that, you see?”

  10. Thank you for sharing this gem of truth. It is a great reminder for this introvert mom who sometimes feels like my kids are an intrusion rather then something to be celebrated when they enter the room. I have wonderful memories of the whole family welcoming my dad when he got home from work, and my kids do this well for their dad. But I could do better on welcoming in this current season when I’m hanging on to every alone moment for dear life.

  11. Shawni, I want to learn more! I am convinced that improving our “welcoming response” can alter, deepen, and set off a chain reaction of further positive interactions with that individual. I am currently taking two developmental psychology courses. I would love to use this topic for one of my research papers; however, I am struggling to find any applicable articles/journals in my university’s library database under “welcoming response.” I’ve tried a few other key terms with no luck. Would you mind sharing some of your sources? I’ll share my paper with you when I’m done :).

    1. Oh I’m sorry I just barely saw this comment! I know I’m probably too late, but just in case I’ll say this. It’s so strange, I cannot find where I learned about the “Welcoming response”! I’ve looked and searched over and over again, but it’s been a while. If I find the developmental psychologist who came up with it I’ll definitely come back and share! Please let me know if you were able to find anything in your search.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *