The Direction of the Circle

The Circle of Security diagram takes over 5 decades of attachment theory research and puts it into a visual diagram to help parents build attachments with their children. This is taught through a course called the Circle of Security Parenting. This is then built upon for educators of children in early childhood through a facilitation program called Circle of Security Parenting Classroom. This uses videos and reflective practice to teach through parents and educators looking within themselves at their own behaviours and emotions now and in the past. Doing this without blame to find ways they can improve their relationship/attachment with children.

The Circle of Security has hands to the left of the diagram. These hands are the parent or significant other guardians in a child’s life.

One hand represents being a secure base so that children feel confident to go out and explore the world Support My Exploration. The child is more likely to feel secure and go and explore if the needs on the circle are met. These needs are;

  • Watch over me
  • Delight in me
  • Help me
  • Enjoy me

Put your finger on the secure base hand and trace a line going to the right. This is referred to as children going out from the circle. This is them feeling confident to explore where they are not held back from having their needs met. If a parent is insecure then this can cause children to have insecure relationships with their parent and then in the future with significant others in their life. i.e. remember we talked about the 4 categories of attachment and 3 of these being insecure, this is what this is referring to. A parent not providing a secure base for children is referred to as Limited Circles of Security.

A secure base allows children to explore the world around them and to experience mastery through problem-solving and experiencing autonomy.

The second hand at the bottom labelled Safe Haven is significant others providing emotional support to meet children’s needs because children need someone to co-regulate with them before they are able to regulate their own behaviour.

Put your finger on the far right of the circle and travel down the circle to the hand representing safe haven this is referred to as the child coming in on the circle and it represents what is referred to as the bottom of the circle. Where children may find it difficult to deal with emotions.

The safe haven represents parents or significant others welcoming children back to them through the behaviour they provide in secure ways that children will want to come back to them. This is referred to as Welcome My Coming To You. A child is returning back on the circle because they need a safe haven to support them when they feel threatened or have a desire to reconnect. it is having their emotional cup refiled. If a parent isn’t the safe haven then this too can lead to secure attachments now and in the future.

On the bottom of the circle, the needs for the child that needs to be met include;

  • Protect Me
  • Comfort Me
  • Delight in Me
  • Organise My Feelings

We will visit what these needs on the top and the bottom of the circle are for children later in this course. Let’s first reflect upon what safe and secure means to you by completing the below activity.

Being With

To form secure attachments we need to ‘be with’ children. As we are human BEings, not human havings or human doings. This means not being really present with children and not buying children things for attachment. This can be difficult in our busy lives as adults and all the things that children may do such as after-school and weekend extracurricular activities, but it is important to have quality time with children.

Being with is being emotionally available to children in relation to their emotional needs. It is teaching emotional intelligence by being with children with all of their feelings. This includes sadness, anger, joy, excitement, fear and curiosity, pain, frustration etc. Allowing them to trust and be able to move on from these feelings. It helps them to feel less overwhelmed and more secure. Security International. Being with is letting go of our own emotions and being with children so we are less reactive and more responsive. Circle of Security International,  Circle of Security parenting, 2016, Being-With and Shark Music – Circle of Security International

Complete the reflective task below on being with to support you to reflect on what it means to you.