What is the Circle in the Circle of Security Parenting?

Imagine that your children are always on a circle. When they are at the top of the circle they are going out to explore the world.  When they are at the bottom, they are returning to you for connection to have their emotional cup refilled. All children have the desire to explore: to find out what happens when--   To see what is beyond the next hill or around the next corned.  Children who have a secure relationship with their parents have the confidence to explore.  They have a secure base to launch their next adventure from whether it is walking for the first time or going away to college. They also need a safe haven to return to when they feel overwhelmed, scared, tired, hurt or want to share their joy.  Now imagine holding the side of the circle for them.  Your children move away from you to explore and return to you for connection.  If we are secure when our children leave to chase butterflies or play with friends, this helps them feel secure and confident. However, if we feel abandoned when they ventures out on their own, then our body language and conversation will reveal our insecurity, so they may hesitate and eventually stop exploring to keep us in our comfort zone.  If we can welcome them back on the bottom of the circle and replenish their emotional cup when they are sad, hurt, frightened or overwhelmed then they can go back out again.  In contrast, if we are uncomfortable comforting them then they will hesitate to return to us and intrude into our emotional space. Sometimes we drop the circled. We become triggered or overwhelmed by our needs or theirs and walk or run away.  Then they are left alone to take care of themselves.  No child or even teenager is ready for that responsibility.  Kids…

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Obstacles to Supporting Children’s Needs

After we moved, my son asked if we could set up play dates with some of the children in his new school. I felt uncomfortable so I invented excuses why we couldn’t.  His request triggered me because of rejection I had experienced, and I told myself that I didn’t want him to feel that same sadness.  Sometimes we don’t support our children's needs because it triggers us. In Circle of Security Parenting we call these triggers shark music: feelings, needs or situations that are safe but remind us of past threatening experiences. Our shark music maybe activated when our children ask us to meet their needs. Through conscious actions or unconscious intent, we may place our comfort before their needs.  For example if we feel we are being abandoned when they do things without us, we may undermine their activities:  “Are you sure you want to go see your friend?  Maybe you should go another day.” Or we may say yes to a request that turns on our shark music, so our tone of voice says no.  Finally, if being close to others causes us to feel anxious, we may grimace or wince when they need reassurance. Studies show that children as young as eleven months sense when we become uneasy, so they stifle their need to satisfy our desire to feel calm.  Not only does our response result in their needs not being met, but also our reaction causes them even more distress.  They may question why their request would be threatening to the person they most love and cause them to doubt their own needs and judgment.  Or they may fear that if they upset the person they are most dependent upon s/he will withdraw from them leaving them alone. Sometimes our shark music is so loud that we block out children’s needs for reasons that begun…

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What Is Attachment & Why Is It Important

Just thinking of writing about attachment—I don’t want to.  Have you ever avoided something—really avoided it--the way you avoid touching a throbbing tooth? I avoid music written in a minor key, and books, shows and movies that end in separation or death. So I am exercising, watching A Far Off Place, and wondering if I have enough chocolate chips to make cookies. I remember watching this show over 25 years ago.  Reese Witherspoon played Nannie Parker, a girl whose parents were killed by poachers.  To escape them, she with two friends crossed the Kalahari Desert on foot.  Col. Mopani Theron, played by Maximillian Schell, never gives up searching for her. Re-watching the movie, I realize that Col. Theron only appeared a few times, but it was because of his concerned, protective presents that I enjoyed the movie--his appearing in scenes here and there to remind me that someone cared about her. Then I didn’t know that the emptiness I felt was attachment trauma.  While I write this, I have to be careful that I don’t slip into that abyss.  I wish I could write about what attachment feels like.   But if I could, I would not write this.  It’s because I didn’t experience it that I hope to help parents create a secure connection with their children. I know where life can spiral down to without it and have studied where it can soar to with it.  Attachment means that you are there for your children when they fall down and skin their knees. You are there when they strike out and when they hit a grand slam.  You are there when their best friend moves away or they are scared of the dark.  You empathize with them, instead of telling them they have no reason to feel sad or afraid or distracting them with technology or a cookie.   …

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Reframing My Mindset: You Mean She’s Not Doing This to Annoy Me

When my daughter was two, I returned to college.  https://pixabay.com/photos/books-study-literature-learn-stack-2158773/ I remember sitting at my desk studying.  My daughter would be playing a few feet away until I got up to get another book.  Then she would stop stacking the blocks and run to me.   For the next several minutes, I would attempt to re-interest her in building a tower, which rarely worked.  Next I would become stern and tell her that I had to finish my paper and she had to play by herself.  That was even less successful.  Eventually I would give up and did what I thought parents were supposed to do:  entertain. https://pixabay.com/photos/games-children-child-girl-toys-2801332/ Through Circle of Security Parenting, CoSP, I have reframed her behavior.  Now I understand that her goal wasn’t to get my attention to annoy me.  She was trying to get my attention to feel that no matter what I was doing I loved her and would be there for her.   https://pixabay.com/photos/mom-kids-mother-family-child-1973778/ If I had reassured her by giving her a hug, and a kiss, she would have returned to her construction project and I could have returned to Shakespeare.   Oh if only hindsight was foresight— If you are worried that meeting a child’s need for support will make her more dependent, studies show that children who are securely attached even as young as two demonstrate more independence than children who feel that they are alone with no one to help meet their emotional needs. Next time your child interrupts what you are doing, think of her bid for attention as a need for connection. For more information about Circle of Security Parenting please visit https://www.circleofsecurityinternational.com or read Raising a Secure Child. https://www.circleofsecurityinternational.com/books

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Circle of Security Works!

You are right: ending a sentence with an exclamation point is not longer considered acceptable.  The words the I choose should express my excitement, so I will use some more to explain. Last week I watched my three granddaughters ages six, four and 20 months while their mom was in the hospital having their baby brother.  I had taken care of them many times, but this time was different.  First, I had thought that adults were suppose to entertain children every waking hour, which is exhausting and frustrating—kids don’t always want to be entertained. Second I was concerned that they would feel insecure because their mom was in the hospital for four days and their baby brother was rearranging their family.   Since my three children have come and gone and two of them have children of their own, I have learned about Circle of Security Parenting, CoSP, which helps parents foster attachment, resilience, and self-confidence in their children.  Because children don’t come with an instruction manual, CoSP’s philosophy is that they are the manual.  They will let you know when they want to explore and when they need comforting, when they want to celebrate and when they need calming.   You can think of CoSP as a circle that you hold and your children are on moving away from you to explore and back to you for reassurance.    With this in mind, last week I wanted to give my granddaughters the reassurance that we were connected and the opportunity to explore without my interfering. We read books together.  In fact we found three new books that we love, What Do You Do with a Problem? What Do You Do with a Chance? And What Do You Do with an Idea? https://www.amazon.com/What-You-Do-Matters-Problem/dp/1946873144/ref=sr_1_3?crid=3BZYI0J9JUK9I&keywords=what+do+you+do+with+an+idea&qid=1558798666&s=gateway&sprefix=what+do+you+do+with+an+%2Caps%2C151&sr=8-3 We went to the park.  I watched the six-year-old climb the rock wall and swing across the monkey…

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