Circle of Security News & Circle Stories Blog Wed, 31 Dec 1969 16:00:00 +0000 en-US daily 1 Morning struggles: Circle Stories From The Field Thu, 27 Jul 2017 10:54:35 +0000 Morning mothering for a non-morning person can be a real struggle. This mom uses the Circle of Security to find new ways to "fill her child's cup" while meeting her own needs.

I struggle with mornings and yes, I know that is cliché. I confess I was perfectly happy when my husband had a job that required him to be to work at 4:30 in the morning, meaning that I could wake up and go about my morning, not interacting with anyone until I arrived at work a full 2.5 hours after getting out of bed. Fast forward 6 years, and we relocated, completely changed our occupations and schedules, and added a child to our household. So many wonderful changes, but I really struggled to be civil to the people I love most in the morning. I am aware enough to know it is my problem, and not actually anyone else’s fault, but that doesn’t make it any easier. I hate having demands made of me before I have time to fully wake up. And there is something about parenting that leaves me in a half sleep state for a few hours. Oh, right, it’s called sleep deprivation.

When my daughter was 3, we started to struggle in a very big way. It turns out she inherited my disdain for mornings. We’d have full melt-downs over what pants to wear, whether or not she had used the potty before leaving the house, or trying to keep her under 40 minutes at the breakfast table. And of course, through all of this my patience was at the breaking point from the time my feet hit the floor. Too many times I’ve had the experience of trying to force a planking kid into her car seat (I WISH I had her core strength!!). She would demand snuggles when we were both at the brink of tears, and knowing the Circle of Security, I’m not one to shy away from repair where it was possible. But I really longed to not have so many ruptures in the morning. It just didn’t feel good for any of us, and didn’t feel sustainable.

I tried to consider where she was on the Circle, and how we could start the day with a better tone. We tried snuggling in bed. This seemed like it fit our family, and I could make sure her cup was full before we got into our day. For a few weeks it seemed to help, then we just started sleeping and snoozing longer. It turns out she and I are both really good at going back to sleep when given the chance. And our “snuggle time” didn’t seem to count. I could point out that we’d been laying there for 15 minutes, but it didn’t make a difference when we were in the middle of arguing because she didn’t want to get up yet. We were habitually late. We went right back to tears and planking. But I wasn’t willing to just accept that our mornings were always going to be a struggle. We tried a few more things, and again, they weren’t right for us. We survived like this for a few years, because I could tag team with my husband and we could fumble our way through the mornings. But I had a big deadline looming, Kindergarten was starting. And our schedules were changing so that I would be solo parenting in the morning. Crap.

We had to figure something out that didn’t result in so much distress for both of us. I tried to think about the times we are both calm and enjoying being with one another. Reading. We have read a book together every day since the day she was born. We always read a bedtime story, so I decided to try a wake-up story. At first, it was in bed, but that was still too close to our bedtime stories. When we moved stories to the couch, it was a game changer. I set a timer (building in time for the “just a little more” request) and begin reading. I don’t have to consider how to be civil in the morning if I’m reading words already written for me. It helps me wake up. My calm tone and presence helps her wake up and start on the right foot. Most importantly it gives us a chance to enjoy each other, I get to genuinely fill her cup.

We’ve been reading our wake-up stories for a little over a year now, and it still feels like it works for us. It is predictable, and sustainable. When days feel stressful, like we are going in a thousand directions at once, and there is just too much to do, I realize now this is a way for us to slow down, and begin and end our days feeling connected.     --- Gretchen

Bringing ‘Curriculum of Feelings' to COS in the Classroom Thu, 17 Aug 2017 17:07:27 +0000 Sydney-based psychologist Robyn Dolby uses the Circle of Security in the Classroom (COS-C) to bring safety and predictability into the lives of preschool children. A question she is often asked by classroom teachers is, “How do I meet all of the children’s needs at the same time?”

Sydney-based psychologist Robyn Dolby uses the Circle of Security in the Classroom (COS-C) to bring safety and predictability into the lives of preschool children. A question she is often asked by classroom teachers is, “How do I meet all of the children’s needs at the same time?” Below is Robyn’s response.



“This is really difficult and there is no magical solution. In an ordinary day at childcare, Joan could be comforting Sara who is distressed because she has just said goodbye to her mum when two families come to her with their children to do the goodbye ritual, at the same time a girl comes in to ask for help to resolve a dispute and George who is sitting on the other side of Joan is asking her to look at his block construction. Joan may feel, ‘I am full to the brim, I wish I had a practical task at this very minute like helping the children put on their sunscreen!’

The best you can do is to make yourself as predictable as you can.  Naming your own actions helps. ‘George I haven’t forgotten you, I am comforting Sara because she is missing her mum. And then I’ll be back to look at your construction’. When you return your attention to George you can say, ‘Now I am back. Let me see what you have done with these blocks’. If Sara is still not settled, you might say to her, ‘I’m going to play with some blocks with George. Why don’t you stay right here with me till you’re ready to play because it is hard to have mum go. You can stay with me, and when you’re ready you can join me’. When you name your own actions you make it easier for the children to follow you and they also experience being held in mind. And when you make a guess about how a child is feeling and put some words to this, then the child learns that ‘my feelings are not unspeakable, that they are not something I have to be afraid of or that I have to hide or try to push away’.

 A tricky situation is when children are on different sides of the Circle. Two children may be sitting next to each other and having a totally different experience. George is eager for Joan to see what he has hidden inside the box he has constructed, ‘Come on, open it, open it!’ Beside him, Sara, is crying because her mum has just left. How do you meet each of their needs? If you treat them like they are both at the same point on the Circle one of them is going to lose out.

Joan first invites Sara to look with her to find what George had hidden inside his box. Sara drops her shoulders and leans away. Joan reflects: ‘As soon as I said that to Sara I knew that was not where she was at. I was trying to pull her up to the top of the Circle. ‘Joan says to Sara, ‘When I asked you to look at the blocks, I think I was hurrying you. You’re still missing mummy. You can sit here with me till you feel better. I’ll give you a cuddle if you’d like.’

Sara leans into Joan and George looks across at her with a brief look of concern. Joan now speaks with him about how Sara is feeling. ‘Sara’s sad because her mum left. Does that ever happen to you? I noticed today when your mum left you gave her that big hug and then you seemed like you were ready to play.’ This will help George to understand that ‘we all have different feelings at different times’ and Sara will learn that ‘it’s OK for me to be having these feelings.’ To this, Glen Cooper, co-originator of Circle of Security, responds, “Part of the ‘curriculum of feelings’ is that when you have a child who is displaying any kind of feeling you help the other children around you to make sense of it.” 

Joan does join in George’s fun and finds the different things he has hidden inside his box, one, two, three, four, five times. On the sixth time, Sara looks into the box, and back to Joan: ‘I think you want to join in looking too Sara.’ Joan’s tone conveys, ‘I’ll be interested in what you see.’ George looks up at Sara and holds the box closer to her to look.  Now they are both on the top of the Circle. Sara has got there herself with Joan’s support of staying with her when she is upset and supporting her exploration when she is ready.”

COSI Award 2017 Mon, 30 Oct 2017 13:12:53 +0000 Kent Hoffman was able to present the 2017 COSI award in person to Catherine and Gary Grant in London, England!

In London, UK, recently, Kent Hoffman presented the 2017 COSI award to Catherine and Gary Grant for their outstanding dedication to the work of Circle of Security International, and for their support in the completion of the newly updated version of the COS-P video protocol. Thank you Cath and Gary!

COSI Award
Presented to Catherine and Gary Grant
In recognition and appreciation for your dedication and advocacy to the advancement of early intervention
Circle of Security International