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Cues and Miscues

a young man and a little girl read a book together


arenting is hard, and just when things are going well, things change. I met a dad who was talking about how bedtime with his 5-year-old daughter has recently become a big struggle. They like to share a few minutes before turning the lights out to read a book together. But, over the last few weeks, reading the book drags out to more than 45 minutes. His daughter is slow with wanting to turn the pages, she asks lots of questions, points to all the pictures, and chats endlessly about the images. The dad says, “I never realized how much I struggled with Being With my daughter in her curiosity. I want to support her exploration, and it’s great she’s so curious and enjoying her books, but rather than enjoying the time together, I just feel frustrated.”

So, what is going on? Is this a struggle on the Top of the Circle? But there’s more to the story. Something has changed. The dad goes on to share that he is probably just more tired than usual because his sleep has been disrupted by the birth of their second baby, who is now 2 months old. “I have less energy, so I guess I’m just not enjoying things like I usually do. And, my wife has been busy with the baby, so the bedtime routine is falling on me now – it’s hard to want to play and explore at the end of a long day.”

What if we think differently about his daughter’s behavior, and instead of a Top of the Circle cue for exploration, we think of it as a miscue for connection? This idea got the dad’s attention, and he started to make sense of what was happening through a different lens. “Of course, her whole world changed since the birth of the baby. And her mom isn’t available in the same way. It makes sense that she needs more connection, more time with me to fill her cup. Her world has been turned upside down! You know, when I think about it this way, I feel less frustration, and my heart softens. It helps me find empathy and makes it easier to fill her cup.”

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.