Miscues and Music

The following story was shared with us by a parent about her experiences of tracking needs on the Circle, noticing Shark Music, miscues and Choosing Security.

During remote learning due to COVID restrictions, my 8 year old son has, at times, struggled with school work. He becomes very anxious that he doesn’t understand something, or worries about his capacity to do the required work. When this happens, he “acts up”, becoming particularly activated when my husband or I try to help him. He’ll get angry, slamming his book down, or scribbling on his work, or he will run off to his bedroom, scream at us, or hide under the desk.

We also become frustrated with him and the situation. As he pushes back against us, we begin to raise our voices, or start to become mean, saying he “isn’t focusing” or “can’t be bothered”. We’ve come to recognize that this is a response to our own Shark Music.

First, there is our guilt that we aren’t more available to our 4 year old child during these times. We have to keep saying we can’t play because we need to help his older brother with school work. We can’t respond to his needs on the Circle – watch over me, enjoy with me, delight in me – because we need to help our older son. Then, we feel like we aren’t able to support our older son, because he’s struggling and we aren’t able to teach. We want to help him feel more confident with his work, but he is still finding it challenging.

On reflection, it is this focus on trying to teach and help our son to learn that is getting in the way of seeing that his needs on the Bottom of the Circle in these moments.

Recently, on one of these difficult occasions, my son had gone under his desk and curled up in a fetal position crying. I sat on the floor next to him and he turned away from me.  I was thinking that he needed space and was angry with me. I could feel my Shark Music loudly – the fear of rejection, abandonment, but I also knew that my son needed me on the Bottom half of the Circle, to accept his big feelings and help him organize them.  As I sat there with him, I wondered if his action of turning away was a miscue. I reached out and placed my hand on his back, grounding him. I used my breath to help us both regulate.  I provided the Hands on the Circle, offering comfort and Being With.

Later on, when my son was calm, I checked in with him about his experience, whether he had wanted me to go away or stay there with him and he reaffirmed that he had wanted me to be there, and that he liked my hand on his back.  We were able to repair the rupture and talk a little about how when he turned away it gave me the message that he didn’t want me there (miscues) and how we will work together to find better ways of communicating our needs.

Being a parent is messy and clunky and beautiful.

Parent, Melbourne, Australia

I invite you to share with me your comments, reflections, Circle stories and experiences with Circle of Security Parenting. Your submissions may be used in future blog posts, with all identifying information excluded, unless you specifically request to be identified. Contact me at brooke[at]circleofsecurityinternational[dot]com