Copyright © PARTNERS Family Resource Centers. All rights reserved.

Provide a Circle of Security For Your Children

Published in the Parents Resource Guide by Meg Luce, LMFT 

A child falls down and gets a boo-boo; often moms and dads wonder what is the best way to respond. Nobody wants to rush to the rescue and promote unnecessary whining, but parents do tend to want to give a little TLC when their child needs some comforting. Sometimes it’s hard to know how to strike a good balance between promoting your child’s independence, while at the same time providing the comfort that your child deserves.

A wonderful program called Circle of Security© accounts for both sides of a child’s development; the quest for independence, and the need for comfort and safety. The program describes this balance as addressing your child’s needs around both halves of a circle. Often families will greatly prize one half of the circle or the other. Think about your own family…what is most encouraged? Are traits of independence especially praised, or is it family closeness that is particularly valued? Usually, adults make unconscious choices about the circle from lessons learned from their own childhoods.

Circle of Security© values both aspects of a child’s development. Both sides of the circle are important and they are not mutually exclusive. The starting point of the circle is you, the parent. You provide the child’s secure base. Have you ever seen a little one going into the first day of preschool, stuck to mama’s hand like glue? The child is probably very interested in what the preschool is offering; new friends, new toys and activities. She is holding onto mom because that’s her base of security. If mom let’s her know to take her time, she probably will let go of that hand—eventually— and go explore. If mother tries to push the child too fast, that secure base is threatened and the little one may feel she needs to hold onto mother ever tighter. This can be counterproductive. Circle of Security© reminds us that all children have the natural desire to explore and will—if we provide that secure base and let them know they can go exploring when they are ready. 

The other half of the circle involves providing comfort. There are times when a little one has been a busy bee exploring and playing and may suddenly need a dose of mom or dad. Sometimes a smile or a wink will do. Other times a child may burst into tears and need a good snuggle. Circle of Security© describes this as a child getting his cup filled. Of course, as parents we are busy with a million things, but when we can reassure our children by taking a bit of time with them when they need it—we are filling their cups. In this way, a child is allowed to have needs and express them. A child can get what he needs and then be on the way to exploration again. The two halves of the circle work together and a child is allowed to enjoy the exhilaration of exploring his world, while the arms of safety and reassurance are available when needed. Attending to both sides of the circle will provide your child with a circle of security. 

Meg Luce is a Marriage and Family Therapist with a private practice in Grass Valley and is a facilitator of Triple P Parenting and Circle of Security Parenting. 

Call 530.913.2745 for more information or you may visit