Raising secure children – learning about engagement and connection with children using the Circle of Security

By Paeds in a podGeneralLearning15 Apr 2020

Circle Of Security


Article by Aleksandra Olekalns


Learning is such an important part of each and every person’s childhood. Early in our development, as young babies and children, we learn to navigate our world through developing an understanding of objects, colours, language, sound…the list goes on! The world around us in childhood provides many rich sources of information and opportunities for learning that can go on to inform how we think, feel and act in the future. Experiencing a dog having growled menacingly at us as a toddler, for example, might make us think twice about petting that adorable puppy down the road as an adult. Conversely, that delicious ice cream enjoyed on a hot summer’s day with childhood friends might make us feel a sense of joy and relaxation when visiting the same beach as an adult. In this way we can quickly learn to associate actions, thoughts and feelings with events or interactions to make sense of the world around us.

But, have you ever thought about how we learn to develop secure and healthy relationships with people from a young age? What influences how we develop relationships with our parents during early childhood – and how do these influence our wellbeing and mental health into the future?

Just as we learn to navigate our world through noticing patterns in behaviour, we too learn a lot from the patterns that are present in our first relationships with our primary caregivers. These relationships help us, as children, to identify patterns that influence the way we interact with others, and how we expect others to interact with us, all through life. These patterns are called attachment styles. Children who seek comfort from their caregiver, readily accept interactions from their caregiver with positive behaviour and who are able to separate from their caregiver typically demonstrate a “secure attachment”. By bringing purpose to engaging with our children and a desire to understanding their needs, psychological research has found a significant positive impact on the attachment patterns of high-risk toddlers and pre-schoolers and their primary caregivers. We also know that children who learn secure attachment patterns early in their life experience greater resilience against life stress and the ability to form close, healthy relationships leading to good mental health.

So we know that creating a secure bond is important to our child’s development, but figuring out how to form these patterns with your child can feel like a challenge – it’s no small task, so where can we start?

Recently, Paeds in a Pod hosted several sessions for a group of parents that aimed to explore and develop secure attachments with their children, using the Circle of Security Parenting Program. The sessions focused on exploring how we interact with our children, and how we might meet their needs in both exploring their world, and receiving comfort and care, especially if our children are hurt or frightened. The interactive and supportive sessions also explored what providing a “secure base” as a parent might look like; a person who can protect, comfort, delight in their child, and to make sense of or help organise their feelings. The program is based on the principles that as a carer to our child, we are helping them to learn about the world, by being bigger, stronger, wiser and kind as a parent. The sessions also focused on the importance and value of reflective parenting. There is always another opportunity to better understand and engage with our children – and sometimes we are learning how to parent in new ways, alongside our children.

Parents who participated in the sessions were able to share their experiences with others in the group about learning how to create a safe and secure base for their children. There were many opportunities for parents to reflect on the types of engagement and connection they experienced between sessions with their own children, and to explore similar challenges in parenting across the group. Overall, the resounding message from many discussions throughout the program was the reminder that there is always an opportunity to reflect on the way in which we can best connect with and meet the needs of our children as they develop.


Click here to learn more about our Circle of Security program or sign up for a class.


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