Continuing on from “How do I know what every child needs?”….
As I said last time, Circle of Security is based on the premise that for a child to grow into a relationally secure and interdependent adult, they need to be able to confidently explore their world knowing that they have the support of a parent or caregiver who will be there for them upon their return. An adult who will be a secure base and provide a safe haven. An adult who is bigger, wiser, stronger, and kind emotionally. An adult who is able to follow the child’s needs when possible and take charge when necessary: http://www.circleofsecurity.net
A child who has a secure relationship with a parent or caregiver can move away from them and out onto the “circle” knowing that their exploration will be supported by that adult, who will watch over them, delight in them, help them when needed, and enjoy with them. When children are exploring they need us to be available to watch over them without interruption on our part. Our relaxed presence is what can make discovery and learning possible. Our children need to know we delight in them for no other reason than simply because they are who they are, not because of how well they have done something. Being delighted in, for who you are, creates a sense of being inherently valuable and lovable, and this foundation makes the joy of mastery and accomplishment possible. Sometimes our children need help when they are exploring, but just enough that they can learn to do new things by themselves. Enjoying with them is about being available and truly interested in what they are doing.
I remember watching my four-year-old follow his brother and climb one of those enormous spider webs to the very top, confident with each step, looking back at me every now and then for signs of encouragement. A smile, a thumbs up, a wave. He reached the top and beamed, delighted in himself and his achievement. He was developmentally, physically and emotionally ready for this task. Not all four year olds are. It’s important to know this about your child, they all develop at different times and comparisons can set them up for disappointment and a sense of failure.
When a child becomes tired, frightened, uncomfortable or their emotional cup is empty, they lose interest in exploring and have a new set of needs. On the Circle of Security this is the point at which the child is needing to return to the safe haven and reconnection with their parent. These are the moments a child needs the parent or caregiver to welcome the child coming to them. Their need may be about protection, comfort, to be delighted in, or to have their feelings organised.
Sometimes children come in to us because they’re frightened and need protection. Children need to be comforted and experience tenderness and soothing many times throughout the day. They need to be able to share their adventure and be delighted in for who they are. Often they need help to make sense of their feelings, so they can learn to trust and share their emotions without being overwhelmed by them.
When my boy climbed all the way down again, he came straight to me clearly thrilled and wanting to share his delight. He was very excited and had been a little frightened, and needed the calming comfort of his mother’s steady words and arms to help him re-organise his feelings and fill up his cup so he could venture out again.
Such is the Circle of Security. You can see it clearly in children from the very start, as babe’s, their desire and drive to venture out, but their need to return and be close and comforted by their parent. Our job as parents is to recognise where they are on the circle and what their needs are from the cues they are giving us.
My eldest boy is now nearly twenty and what I’ve learnt is he still needs that secure relationship with me and always will. All of us need to feel connected and secure in our relationships. All of us need a secure base and a safe haven to return to.
If you’re interested in learning anymore about the Circle of Security; would like to enhance your relationship with your child; or are interested in joining a COS parenting
group you can find out more at: http://www.yourfriendship.com.au