Prior to having a child, I had no idea what ‘type’ of parent I would be. There are all these words you hear: attachment, free range, tiger mum, helicopter. Could I do cry it out? Do I really want to ‘wear’ my child all the time? How will I respond to a stage 4 supermarket meltdown?
In the early sleep deprived days, you don’t have time or inclination to think about anything beyond working out how on earth to feed them and how to make the screaming noise stop long enough to get a few hours shut eye.
My mum, however, had lots of thoughts about what type of parent I should be. Over the last 10 years, she has retrained as a clinical psychologist and with her previous 30 years experience in teaching, has a pretty keen knowledge and interest in child behaviour. One of the courses she did was ‘Circle of Security’ which she rabbited on and on about (sorry mum). So one day, mainly to get some peace, my husband and I sat down with her to learn.
At the time our little baby was only a few months old and to be honest, most of it flew over my head. It's hard to understand behavioural concepts and how you'd respond to tantrums when the child in question is sleeping innocently in your arms.
However as my daughter has grown, I've realised what I learnt has shaped the parent I've become so far. The premise of the 'Circle of Security' is about providing your child with an environment to promote secure attachment. Their website says:
"Decades of university-based research have confirmed that secure children exhibit increased empathy, greater self-esteem, better relationships with parents and peers, enhanced school readiness, and an increased capacity to handle emotions more effectively when compared with children who are not secure."
My interpretation is that your relationship with your child is on a circle. You send them out to explore the world but remain present by watching over them, helping them, enjoying their exploration and encouraging them if that's what they need. This is called the 'top of the circle'.