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 are not meant to parent themselves.
When children act out or seek attention, their behavior often is communicating their need for connection. They want to know if we are still there for them. Think about it: Our children are dependent upon us for everything: food, clothing, shelter, learning, and most importantly love. If you were that dependent upon someone, wouldn’t you want to know she still had your back, that she wasn’t too busy or that she hadn’t forgotten you, that she would not go away and never come back or only return randomly, so you—no matter how young—would have to take care of yourself?
The circle is a code breaker that deciphers our children’s behavior telling us what their needs are and how we can meet them.