Who Gets Me and Who’s Got Me?

illustration of the circle of limited security
It’s hard to leave a distressed child with another care provider, and no doubt every child’s first pick is their parent. A parent who worries for their child when they drop them off with another care provider can find that they overfocus on their child’s need for connection on the bottom of the Circle.

For the distressed child who clings, we tend to want to distract to the Top of the Circle by trying to get them interested in a toy. Or we say things like, “Don’t cry, you’re okay.” We might offer reassurance that their parent will be back soon.

If we think about this through the lens of attachment, when the parent is not available, the pressing question for the child becomes, “Who gets me, and who’s got me?” A child can’t suspend their need. With this in mind, Circle of Security offers us an answer to the child’s question. We start by inviting the care provider to join the parent and child, and then we let the child know the provider will take care of them and keep them safe while their parent is away. “I get you, and I’ve got you.”

We know from the research that attachment is hierarchical. When the number one person is available, the child will always pick to go to that person. But when the number 1 person is not available, the child needs to know who is their go to person. A child will always miss their parent, but also appreciates the calm confident presence of a caring adult as they negotiate the transition from their parent’s Hands to the early care provider’s Hands.

Hearing each other’s stories helps us connect with caregivers all around the world; and it also offers opportunities to reflect more on the Circle of Security that is present in all our lives. Please consider sharing your own story for our blog page. Click here to submit your story.