It’s in the Repair!

a depressed little boy sitting on the floor with his face in his hands


oday I was playing with my nephew. He’s 2 ½ years old. He had the doctor’s kit and pulled out the blood pressure monitor, holding the inflation valve against my arm. I asked him if he wanted me to show him how to use it while I reached out to take the cuff to put it around his arm. He pulled away so I offered to put it on my arm. I watched his body shrink, he seemed to deflate, turning his body away from me, looking down.

In that moment I got it – this is rupture. I saw my misattunement. I had taken over, taking charge of his play instead of following his need for me to enjoy with him. In this moment I had taken my Hand off the Top of the Circle and was no longer supporting his exploration. But here’s the good news. He let me know, and I could use the Circle to see his behavior as communication and make sense of his response. It was both subtle and at the same time so clear. The Circle of Security.

And here’s even more good news. Because I could recognize the moment I took my Hand off his Circle as a rupture with my nephew, it gave me the opportunity to repair. So, I said, “You were showing me, and I took over. You wanted to use it on me, and I took it off you. I’m sorry.” I gave the cuff back to him and he carried on playing with it while I watched over him, his energy for play quickly returning. He had much bigger plans for the blood pressure monitor than I could see through my adult lens.

As much as it is uncomfortable to recognize the ways we take our Hand(s) off the Circle, it is helpful to know that seeing the rupture through the eyes of the child is the first step toward making repair. Security doesn’t come from always getting it right with our children. Security comes from knowing that when there is a rupture, we can make repair.

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.