All Fall Down

a mother's feet next to a toddler's feet as they walk along the beach leaving footprints together in the sand


t’s not always easy to know what our children need. I’ve recently had lots of moments of missing the mark with my infant daughter as she learns to move – crawling, standing, and cruising around. As you would imagine, there have been lots of little tumbles, moments of overbalancing, falling down, and sometimes, big tears. I had been consistently offering comfort in these moments, scooping her up and offering cuddles when she would cry. But frequently, this didn’t seem to soothe her in the way I had come to expect. She remained quite upset, often crying for quite a while, and even seeming to become more worked up. This played on my Shark Music – what was wrong with our relationship that I couldn’t offer comfort after a fall? Why wasn’t she soothed by my touch and closeness? I began to blame myself – it felt like there is something really wrong with our relationship and it was my fault. Woah! Heavy stuff to bring into the moment.

It took me a while to notice that she was often, in fact, frustrated by my swooping in to pick her up. And the more I heard Shark Music, the more I was determined to “comfort her better” and the more frustrated she became. She actually didn’t need comfort in these moments – she needed me to Organise her Feelings of frustration to allow her to persist and try again.

Observing this pattern has allowed me to recognize the rupture and offer repair. When I use the Circle and reflect (instead of listening to my Shark Music) I am more attuned to her need on the Circle. By not automatically picking her up when she falls, but instead offering words to name her experience of frustration at having fallen or not reached her goal, I am able to meet her need. Sometimes all it takes is a rub on the back or a hand to help her get back up. This response usually settles her enough and she returns to the task with a renewed energy and determination.

Reflecting on these moments has also helped me understand some of my Shark Music more clearly – how quickly I can come to blame myself — and the ways I can overlay quite extreme interpretations to small everyday moments. Of course – there are still Comfort Me moments in the mix too, but just not as often as I had been thinking. And the pain I was bringing to the interaction was all my own. Well, I guess there was sometimes the pain of the small bump, too.

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.