Circle of Security News Blog Wed, 31 Dec 1969 16:00:00 +0000 en-US daily 1 Circle of Security Parenting DVD training in Spanish Circle of Security Offers Parenting Training Seminars in Spanish


Beginning this spring, Circle of Security is excited to offer Parenting Training and DVD seminars conducted in Spanish. Led by Carlos Guerrero, ASW, these 4-day seminars train professionals in core components of Circle of Security protocol and education. While Spanish DVDs and manuals have been a part of our bilingual tools, greater demand has allowed us to include seminars for those more comfortable in a Spanish-language setting. Two seminars are currently scheduled for May.


The structure of the Spanish Parenting Training and DVD seminar is very similar to our English program. Examples of secure and problematic parent/child interaction are studied and discussed, and attendees are given examples to clarify both Circle of Security principles as well as healthy caregiving practices. As with all the Parenting and DVD Training Seminars, any professional who provides parenting education, healthcare or counseling is encouraged to attend.


To acknowledge the experiences of those in Spanish-speaking communities, our Spanish trainings do offer some changes from the English format. Just as each Circle of Security Parenting Training seminar regularly employs examples from film and culture to illustrate concepts, our Spanish training draws from Latin American or Spanish-language media with similar themes or representations. Open dialogue will allow discussion of cultural references and sensitivities in specific Latino communities.


The first two Spanish-language seminars are scheduled for Spring 2014.



12-15 May 2014

First 5 Alameda County
1115 Atlantic Ave.
Alameda, CA 94501


New Mexico

27-30 May 2014

1 Ardovino Drive

Sunland Park, NM 88063

Special Presentation: 1 day follow up seminar We are excited to announce a Special Presentation. Our lovely trainers in Norway, Ida Brandtzaeg and Stig Torsteinson, will be presenting a follow up seminar for people who have previously attended a 4 day COS-P training. There will be a panel of speakers who will present on their experience using the Circle of Security Parenting protocol with families in various settings. It should be an informative and interesting presentation. This one day seminar will be on the 28th of November in Oslo, Norway. Click here for more information and to register.

The Balance of Being-With Mon, 09 Jan 2017 13:10:42 +0000 Being-With is, in many ways, at the heartbeat of our Circle of Security approach. It's such a simple concept: the need every child has for caregivers (parents, teachers, etc.) to recognize and honor feelings by staying with core feelings rather than denying their importance.

At the center of this Being-With approach is decades of research that make it clear that we learn to manage feelings (ex. - anger, sadness, fear, joy, shame, and curiosity) by experiencing the sponsorship of an adult who is with us in the feeling rather than staying outside the feeling and focusing only on our behavior. Surprising to many is the research that shows how 2 year olds who've been raised in a context of Being-With are actually less demanding, throw fewer tantrums, and are more responsive to their parents requests than children who've been raised without this approach.

In science speak: Co-regulation leads to self-regulation. The shared management of feelings allows emotions to become safe and thus supports the ability to manage them on our own in the future.

When I know that you care about my feelings and are willing to join me in how they feel to me, I no longer feel alone or overwhelmed by what seems so difficult in this moment. When you help me organize what currently feels chaotic, I can calm down and make sense of what previously felt so difficult. This helps me build a new capacity to deal with these feelings on my own.

And yet, the plot thickens.

There's an opposite problem that can show up precisely as some of us are learning about the importance of Being-With.

Feelings are very important. The danger is that some of us might begin to believe that feelings need to become all-important and attempt to stop the world every time our child has a feeling. Such a child would then begin to think his or her feelings deserve focus 24/7. That would be a sad and unintended consequence of what we're trying to say.

Being-With is always about balance, one in which a child learns that feelings are profound and essential and deserve full availability . . . some of the time. Knowing that we have someone who genuinely cares about all of our feelings and that each feeling can be shared is at the core of our approach to secure attachment. But if a child has a caregiver who suddenly stops everything and commits fully to being 100% available every time her or his child starts to feel, emotions would begin to rule the relationship in a very unhealthy way.

"I know you feel really sad right now, but we need to get in the car so I can get you to school and get me to work. I know you feel really terrible and we'll return to how this feels soon, but not right now."

Said simply: We live in a shared world. All children need to know that their feelings are central to someone some of the time and they also need to know that other people have feelings and priorities that are just as central to them. Feelings can be shared which includes sharing our world with others who also have feelings.

The goal is building a capacity to focus directly on feelings with children but not to over-focus on every feeling at the expense of the bigger picture that others have feelings too. "You matter to me. I also matter to me. And so do those we live with."

It's called balance.


[Excerpted from the new Circle of Security Parenting book by Hoffman, Cooper, and Powell to be published by Guilford Press in early 2017]

New Downloadable Video: Being-With and Shark Music Mon, 09 Jan 2017 13:35:44 +0000 At the heart of the Circle of Security is the art of Being-With. This capacity includes knowing what gets in the way, something we call "Shark Music." With the help of our talented friends at Hands Up in England, we now have an animation to easily explain these key COS concepts. We want you to feel free to share this clip in any way you see helpful. (In your COS-P groups, social media, personal or agency website, email to friends and clients, public presentations, etc.) It is meant to be shared!  

Being-With and Shark Music -- Circle of Security International from Circle of Security International on Vimeo.


Circle of Security International Connection video We are excited to share this video! A quick, to the point, key to parenting. Connection is just one of the take-aways from Circle of Security Parenting, but so very important. We hope you like this platform. We'll be doing more of these in the future!?


We know some of you will want to share this video when you don't have access to the internet. You can download the video here.

Introducing the Core Sensitivities Mon, 09 Jan 2017 12:51:14 +0000 An Introduction To Core Sensitivities

We all have strategies and motivations that guide our behavior within relationships. Some of us might notice that while the thought of being close to someone is very comforting in theory, a partner's actual needs feel demanding in reality. Others may find that any kind of emotional distance from a partner feels quite threatening. And some people keep focus not as much on their relationship or partner, but on themselves being perceived as special or faultless within the relationship.

Developed from object relations theory (and the work of James Masterson and Ralph Klein) as well as attachment theory, the Circle of Security paradigm identifies three core sensitivities. Many of us may recognize ourselves in one of the three sensitivities, which can inform the way we interact with or guard ourselves from others. These are the nonconscious protective strategies that help us avoid emotional pain when we perceive a person threatens intrusion, abandonment, or criticism in a relationship.

We all have relationship vulnerabilities that we may or may not perceive, and we have all developed patterns of behavior that protect us from negatively experiencing that sensitivity - welcome to the club! We all attempt to defend ourselves from emotions that make us uncomfortable. Sometimes these motivations can become pathological: an intense need for affirmation of self-worth might turn into narcissism, for example.

But by and large, the vast majority of us rely on gentler forms of navigating our sensitivities as we build friendships, create relationships and seek solace. Unfortunately, we might also find that as we attempt to create stability in our lives and associations, our sensitivities lead us to construct unspoken rules for how to behave in relationships or interact with others. We set up expectations for partners to follow these unspoken rules and, in the process, may unwittingly violate their own unexpressed sensitivities.

The core sensitivities aren't describing actions we take or even necessarily the behavior we manifest; instead, they categorize the motivation for our actions. Understanding our motivations and sensitivities as well as those of our relationship partner  can help us step out of the constricting roles we set for ourselves and others. We can foster the meaningful interactions that were difficult within our former relationship strategy.

Circle of Security identifies the core sensitivities as:

  • Separation Sensitive: People who identify as separation-sensitive are focused on keeping relationships very close, and often feel threatened at the suggestion of distance or an important person's lack of focus on a relationship. Fear of abandonment is strong, and might result in a willingness for people who are separation-sensitive to sacrifice their own individuality or wellbeing to make the relationship "work."
  • Esteem Sensitive: Esteem-sensitive folks feel compelled to be distinguished positively, with an emphasis on their own accomplishments and perceived perfection. Perceived criticism is difficult to accept, and might threaten a relationship. People who are esteem-sensitive might focus on how they're positively perceived in a relationship, at the cost of giving attention to the relationship itself.
  • Safety Sensitive: Another way to think about safety sensitivity is to consider it "intrusion" sensitive. People who are safety-sensitive are very uncomfortable with others intruding into their sense of self. They may notice it's equally discomforting, however, to keep others too distant; they might feel a desire for a close, intimate relationship but find themselves uneasy when having to interact within an actual relationship. It could feel like relationships require giving in to someone else or that connectivity brings up feelings of being "too close."

When we educate ourselves about core sensitivities, we aim to identify, define and address obstacles and limitations that these strategies unnecessarily impose. By understanding how others react to their sensitivities and identifying our own, we can become more compassionate and effective in helping people both develop more intimate and satisfying relationships with those around them.


To find out more about the trainings that are being offered in the core sensitivities, please visit this page.


What really hooked me . . . is the COS emphasis on core sensitivities. What these add to the equation is twofold: first, a deeper understanding of the intergenerational transmission of attachment . . . and, second, a far more sophisticated approach to psychotherapy than we have yet seen from an attachment perspective, including tailoring strategic approaches based on our understanding of core sensitivities.?

Charles H. Zeanah, Jr., MD

Tulane University School of Medicine

New Orleans, Louisiana

Circle of Security Book Release!!! We are proud to announce the release of our book! The Circle of Security Intervention: Enhancing Attachment in Early Parent-Child Relationships. Available in October 2013!

book coverPresenting both a theoretical foundation and proven strategies for helping caregivers become more attuned and responsive to their young children's emotional needs (ages 0?5), this is the first comprehensive presentation of the Circle of Security (COS) intervention. The book lucidly explains the conceptual underpinnings of COS and demonstrates the innovative attachment-based assessment and intervention strategies in rich clinical detail, including three chapter-length case examples. Reproducible forms and handouts can be downloaded and printed in a convenient 8 1/2" x 11" size. COS is an effective research-based program that has been implemented throughout the world with children and parents experiencing attachment difficulties.

The authors are corecipients of the 2013 Bowlby?Ainsworth Award, presented by the New York Attachment Consortium, for developing and implementing COS.

You can read more about the book, see content, and details on how to order from Guilford Press here.

COSI Award, Charlie Slaughter We have so many people who have worked very hard to help champion Circle of Security throughout the world. We wanted to begin to show our appreciation to individuals who have made an exceptional difference in their communities and beyond. Our plan is to have the COSI Award become an annual presentation.

The first ever COSI Award has gone to Charlie Slaughter, of Connecticut. Charlie has been an incredible advocate for the Circle of Security in Connecticut. He routinely connects with people all over the globe to find specific ways they are using COS within their communities. Thank you Charlie for all that you do for your community and state. You are touching the lives of many families with your tireless efforts.











The award reads: "COSI Award, Presented to Charlie Slaughter. In recognition and appreciation for your exceptional dedication to the advancement of early childhood intervention"



Jude Cassidy, PhD Seminars in Attachment and the Adolescent Circle of Security International is proud to co-sponsor Jude Cassidy Ph.D. seminars on Attachment and the Adolescent. Dr. Cassidy will present in Canberra, Brisbane, and Adelaide November 2013. You can see more information and registration pages here

July July! How is it already July?! Things are beautiful here in Spokane, and we are enjoying a little bit of down time from an intense first half of the year. We had a wonderful and packed spring (fall for all in the southern hemisphere). Both Glen and Bert managed to circum navigate the globe - training in South Africa, Europe, Japan, New Zealand and Australia! Kent kept the North American fires burning with numerous locations across the country. Ida Brandtz?g and Stig Torsteinson have kept a busy training schedule in Scandinavia. In the next few months our two newest trainers Deborah Harris and Deidre Quinlan will begin training in the US. We will also be welcoming Megumi Kitagawa as she presents her first training in Japan in December. And Carlos Guerrero will begin training in Spanish in the US, keep an eye out for those dates soon! So many wonderful people who are working hard to get this material into the hands of parent educators everywhere.

This October/November? we are co-sponsoring attachment seminars with Dr. Jude Cassidy in three locations in Australia: Canberra, Brisbane, and Adelaide. Dr Cassidy has been very influential to the Circle of Security and we are very excited to help support her trip to Australia. You'll be able to register for her seminars right here through our registration site. The details are just coming together and we anticipate having much more information and registration open in the next week or so.

We have exciting news about the book! It is real, and is set to be released October 10, 2013! Here is the pre-release listing from Guilford Press. Of course we will have much more information as the release gets closer, but we are all very excited and relieved to have the book finished and on its way.

Did I formally introduce Mary Davies to the world? I don't know that I did. She is our amazing Office Administrator. We were able to increase the hours to a full time position which helps everyone keep their sanity around here. Mary has done a great job of jumping right in and rolling with all of the questions we receive. I very much appreciate Mary's energy in our small office. And she was a huge support at the Spokane training. I would not have been able to do that one myself without her support.

I have been encouraged to share a few of my own Circle stories, and may indulge now. As a proud mama I share with Glen, Kent, and Bert, my stories of success, frustrations, complete confusion, and pure joy that comes with having a two year old. ?I certainly am lucky to have found the Circle of Security when I did, and I have some of the best resources in the world to talk to as I navigate being the parent that my child needs me to be. This morning, in a conversation with Kent, we were talking about the theories of Magda Gerber and the importance of trusting in your baby's ability to problem solve.

My family had a moment of guided problem solving on the top half of the Circle. Saturday, Penelope wanted to change her shoes and put sandals on to go play outside in the sprinkler. She sat down and was very frustrated as she tugged at her shoes, but got even more frustrated when her daddy (Andy) offered to help. Andy, giving her just enough help to do it herself, very patiently explained to her how to grab her shoe and pull it off. She understands her left and right, so he explained to grab the left heel with her right hand and the toe with her left hand, and pull the heel first. It took a few step-by-step tries, but they both stuck with it and she got it off. They used the same process again with the right shoe. She did the same thing the next day when I was helping her get undressed. She had a smile on her face as she talked her way through taking her shoes off herself ?grab the he-al. Pull off. Penny do it!? She certainly had the satisfaction of being able to do it herself. I was very proud of both of them. It would have been easy to rush her by just do it for her, and comforting her upset. But she very clearly wanted to learn how to do it herself.

No doubt the summer will speed by and fall will be upon us, but Mary and I will keep the office running this summer even when these beautiful blue skied summer days try to call us away.



2013 is off to a busy start! Happy New Year to everyone!?I want to start this post by saying thank you to everyone who has shared in making the Circle of Security a success and who continue to bring this protocol to families throughout the world. I am amazed by the enthusiasm and passion that is inspired.

We have a very busy calendar ahead of us this year, and are working hard to get everything listed. Here are a few highlights for 2013.

  • Translations.?We are expanding into different languages. Last year, we introduced the Spanish version of our DVD. This year will bring Italian, Japanese, Swedish, and Danish. And those are just the ones near completion! More are in the works.
  • Database. We are working?to have a live roster for people who have attended trainings. This will make?our Registered Parent Educators?more accessible to parents who are looking to connect to Parenting classes. This?page will have directory information, as well as a space to list upcoming Parenting classes and update the information. If you have attended a training, please keep an eye out for directions soon.
  • New trainers. We?have been sending?Glen Cooper, Kent Hoffman, and Bert Powell around the world so much, that we are adding trainers. Ida Brandtzaeg and Stig Torsteinson have already been hard at work training in Norway and?Sweden. We?will be introducing more trainers this?year. We?will be thrilled to share information about these wonderful people just as soon as things are solidified.
  • Book.?Our book is set to be released in the fall of 2013. There will be much more information about this as it gets closer to release.


As I said, we are busy busy around Circle of Security.? We'll have a couple other introductions and announcements in the?coming weeks.?In the mean time, if you need to get a hold of our office, we are working hard to keep up with correspondence. We are a little overwhelmed at the moment and are doing our best to respond in a timely manner. But we appreciate your patience and kindness!

Stay tuned!


New Bedtime Routine This story of how one mom is challenging her own insecurities and creating new routines for her little ones, comes to us from a mom here in Spokane. She posted this to her own blog and gave us permission to repost it here.

My New Bedtime Routine; May 2, 2012 Blog Post by Brittney Barney

One of the greatest blessings I've had while living here in Spokane is being able to take what's called the "Circle of Security" (COS) training. The COS is an attachment based theory, and the training I've taken (an eight week class) focuses on parenting and the relationship(s) with your child(ren). I have absolutely loved it. This year was the second year I did the training, and I feel like it has opened my eyes to a lot of things about each girl and myself.

COS's basic premise is that all behavior is communication, and if the parent can learn to identify the need being communicated in the behavior, the parent can then meet the need of the child and thus help create a stable relationship as well as a secure attachment.

In doing this training, I did a lot of self reflection, and I began to realize what causes me anxiety as a parent. And guess what one of those is??? BEDTIME! Yes. Bedtime causes anxiety in me because I want to be able to read the girls a story while they lovingly cuddle in my lap and quietly listen, taking turns asking questions or turning pages for me. And as soon as the story is over, they kneel down and pray together, then quickly jump into bed without any complaints. I tuck them in, kiss them goodnight, and walk out of the room for them to peacefully fall asleep.

Okay. So that's where the anxiety comes in. Because it doesn't happen that way. And for a while, I began to wonder if it was even possible to ever happen that way. I began to wonder, do other kids go right to bed? Do other kids make their parents sit in their room for sometimes more than an hour until they fall asleep? Do other kids make their parents almost pull their hair out as the child flails and screams and kicks in bed because they don't want to sleep?

Well, after taking the COS training for the second time, I realized that one of my weaknesses as a parent is that I second guess my decisions for my kids. It's like, I get that little devil and angel on my shoulders. One moment, I say, "Summer, climb off the table please." The next, I'm thinking, It's okay if she climbs on the table. We don't have a lot of room here, and she needs at least some kind of exercise. So when she doesn't even acknowledge my command, I let it slide and let her stay there. And then a few minutes later, I realize, Wow, that looks pretty dangerous. She better get down. So I ask her again to get down. And then that little she-devil says, But if it were a jungle gym, it would totally be okay. In fact, the table is safer than a jungle gym, because at least there are no holes for her to fall through! So when she ignores my request again, I again let it go. Sometimes, when I know I'm going to have this little debate and feel anxiety over a decision, I choose to ignore the confrontation altogether, to protect me from feeling the anxiety. But then Summer's climbing on counters and tables and dressers and even bookshelves, and I'm not saying anything to stop her! (Okay, so I may be dramatizing a little here . . . maybe . . .)

Needless to say, Summer has figured out that if she just ignores what I say, she can get away with anything.

But! Not anymore. The COS has helped me realize that the anxiety I feel when I have to make a decision for my child should be the secondary concern for me, and the safety and care of my child is the primary concern. (It makes perfect sense! But when you have to take your anxiety head on, it's HARD!)

And what is the solution? Well, because of my weakness in following through, Summer (and Claire too, but she is a different story) has begun to think, Who is really in charge here? Mom is my mom, but when I want to do something, I get to do it. So who, then, is really in charge? This is quite a scary question for a little three year old. For the past three months, since I attended COS the second time, I've been working on helping her realize that I am in charge, and that I will take care of her.

Now, this all ties back into bedtime. Our new bedtime routine goes something like this: once we make it to reading time, the girls grab a book or two. I hold each girl (if they want, sometimes they just prefer sitting by me), but I hold Summer for her book and Claire for her's?to fill up their love cups before bedtime. Then, when it's time, I tell them to get in bed. Sometimes they do, sometimes they need a little assistance from me. Once they're in bed, I pull Claire's blanket up around her, stroke the hair away from her face, look into her beautiful blue eyes, and then say, "Claire, who is in charge tonight?"

She says, "Momma."

I quiz her: "Is Summer in charge?"


"Is Pyper in charge?"

"No." (smile)

"Is Claire in charge?"


"Is this stuffed cheetah in charge?"

"No." (smile)

"Then who is in charge?"

"Momma's in charge."

"That's right. And momma says it's bedtime. I love you, and I'm taking care of you. That's why it's time to close your eyes, rest your body, and go to sleep. Because I love you. And I'm helping your body grow healthy and strong. So we can play and play and play tomorrow." (This is almost verbatim every night.)

And as I say this, the little she-devil on my left begins to shrink and shrink until she disappears, leaving the angel on my right saying, "Yes. This is a good decision you are making for your children."

Then I kiss Claire goodnight, tell her I'm going to go wash the dishes, and I'll come check on her when I'm done.

I make my way to Summer and do the same thing. Sometimes I have to throw a little threat out that if they talk or scream or cry, then I'll have to close the door (which I follow through with, but I only close it for a minute or so, until they are ready to settle down and listen to me wash dishes).

And guess what? Usually, after I do this with Summer, she throws her arms around me and gives me a tight-squeeze hug.

Then I walk into the kitchen and do the dishes, with the quiet of two sleepy girls behind me.

If you would like to share a story of how you are utilizing the Circle of Security? please email

Goodbye Kaaren, thank you for all you have done for COS. We bid a heartfelt farewell to Kaaren Bloom, our fantastic Office Administrator. Today is her last day. She has been an integral part of Circle of Security and helped us navigate through the introduction of the COS-P trainings. If you have contacted our office in the last 3 years, you have most likely interacted with Kaaren. We wish her very well in her new position.

Being with This story from a mother?is a fantastic example of how "being with" can help children process their feelings.


My almost-4-year-old daughter was in the middle of a huge meltdown. (She had wanted to set the table for supper without me knowing. I accidentally ruined the surprise when I walked into the room). She was screaming and crying.? I sat next to her and said, ?I know it?s frustrating when we don?t get? what we want. Would some snuggles help??? She sobbed, ?No! I don?t want to be your daughter anymore!? I calmly said, ?Well, you will always be my daughter, and that makes me happy, because I love that you are my daughter.?

The crying continued, and I sat next to her to wait it out. After a while (still crying), she asked, ?Mommy? Do you still love me even when you?re mad at me?? I told her, ?I?m not mad at you, but yes, I always love you. There is nothing you could do that would make me not love you.?

She then asked, ?Would you love me even if I never said anything but mean things to you??

I told her, ?You are my daughter and I will always love you. There is NOTHING you could do that would ever make me not love you.?

She wrapped her arms around me, and (tears gone) kissed my nose. ?MUAH! I kissed your nose!? she giggled.

Just when I?m starting to think this style of parenting doesn?t work?it does!

Thank you for sharing your story! If you have stories about the Circle of Security? that you would like to share, please email it to

A sucessful time in This Circle of Security story comes to us from a mom in Brisbane, Australia. She learned to utilize a time-in vs a time-out and was?surprised by the outcome.

I thought I might also tell you about my first conscious experience of Circle of Security in practice with my daughter after I had the initial training with I think Bert in Brisbane (I think I was in one of the first two day groups here).?My daughter?was around 7 and when she got really upset and I got disregulated (or I heard shark music) I would routinely send her to her room "to sort herself out and come back when she was calm"...mostly because it made me feel angry/disregulated myself when she was like this. Anyway this one day we were in that cycle and I think I had actually told her (perhaps yelled at her) to go and sort herself out...when it twigged that I had some serious shark music happening and that maybe I should try some "time in" (kind of test that COS stuff). So I followed her down the hallway - I was so disregulated I couldn't get my head together or trust my emotions to even speak, so I just held my arms out to her and motioned with my hands to indicate a hug. She fell into my arms sobbing and wailing, and we just sat down where we were (me still not having any words, and just managing not to push her away so great was my desire to avoid her big emotions). I swear to God about a minute later, she got up...said "Thanks Mum, that really helped" and went on her merry way quite happily...meanwhile I was still all over the place emotionally and had to breath a bit to calm down. It absolutely astounded me, and does to this day. It is something that I sometimes share with collegues or parents when they are skeptical or don't really see how time in can work...I suggest that they give it a chance, but to be aware that it's really hard sometimes.

Thank you for sharing your story. If you have a Circle of Security story you'd like to share, please email

A 2010 article about the COS-P DVD release Spokane psychotherapists Bert Powell, Glen Cooper and Kent Hoffman pioneered the "Circle of Security" ? a program that helps parents bond with their babies. If parents don't bond, a child's future can be filled with insecurity and sorrow. Read more

The Thirteenth Flaw of Parenting Thu, 28 Jul 2016 18:38:50 +0000 Pretend for a moment t13hat every parent on the planet has this one simple fact in common: we all have exactly twelve flaws as parents. Not that these flaws are the same for everyone. Many of us have similar configurations fitting into similar patterns while also being stunningly unique in how messed up we actually are.

Now pretend that someone comes along and tells you that having these flaws isn't actually a problem . . . unless you also have "the thirteenth parenting flaw," the one that makes the other twelve almost impossible to deal with.

What's this thirteenth flaw? The belief that you shouldn't have the other twelve.

Here's the deal about the thirteenth flaw: it always includes blame. This blame is always built on the illusion that there is "an answer" for our imperfection as parents and we should already know it.

The hidden (insidious) message: "Imperfections do not belong in parenting."

(Good luck with that.)

This much we know: We all struggle as parents. All of us. No one is perfect. Indeed, any attempt to be perfect is by its very nature a sign of imperfection.

When we fight our flaws as parents they turn to stone and sit on us with a weight we can barely withstand. Then we either fall into shame and guilt - continually berating ourselves or we pretend that we don't make mistakes and, inevitably, find someone else to blame (our children, our partner, our upbringing).

When we honor our inevitable flaws, when we can bring kindness, acceptance, and understanding to the mistakes we make as parents, something shifts. New possibility and wonderful surprises start showing up for us and our children.

Blame has never helped a parent become a better parent. Being kind to ourselves flows from understanding that parenting is a remarkably difficult task, that we all make mistakes, and that our deep intention to do what's best for our children is what matters.

As we keep saying children are remarkably good at reading between the lines. They can tell when we're anxious and self-critical. They can also recognize when we are able to honor ourselves for doing the best we can under often difficult circumstances.

Being kind to ourselves increases our capacity to be kind to those we most love.

It just may be that in our willingness to honor those twelve inevitable parenting flaws our children get what they need most of all.

(Excerpted from an upcoming book by Hoffman, Cooper, and Powell on Circle of Security Parenting - Guilford Press. Expected publication August, 2016.)

New Downloadable Circle of Security Animation Video The clip can be downloaded at our Vimeo page. ]]> COSI Award, Soledad Martinez For the second year, Circle of Security International would like to express our gratitude to a remarkable champion of intervention on the behalf of children and families. This year's recipient is Soledad Martinez who has been an incredible and committed advocate of the COSI work in New Mexico for much of the past decade. Soledad is an untiring advocate for children and families, bringing both tenacity and creativity to her ongoing efforts. Along with the ongoing support of her colleague and boss, Alejandra Rebolledo Rea, Soledad is changing the life trajectory of countless children in the state of New Mexico. We at COSI are grateful beyond words and wish her well in everything she does in the years to come.


Photo credit: Don Usner


The ever changing world we live in Yesterday, we bid a warm farewell to Melanie Donaldson, who has helped us keep our heads above water these past 5 months. Melanie adapted well to the challenge that this position brings and we will miss her clarity, enthusiasm, and passion. She spoke highly of the wonderful people from around the world that she was able to communicate with on a daily basis. This enthusiasm kept her plugging away at the impossible task she was charged with. Thank you, Melanie, for all you have done for Circle of Security. You were a pleasure to work with and served a very crucial role during a critical transition for our company. We wish you all the joy of being home with your sweet Liv.

As with all transitions, we were able to?better define the role that the Office Administrator needs to provide for the Circle of Security office. We now have the clear understanding that the Office Administrator position is no longer feasible at part-time hours. We've been struggling to keep up with the current level of interest. With that in mind, we would like to introduce Mary Davies, our new full-time Office Administrator. Mary will be the main point of contact for the office, and I hope you all will help to welcome her to COS with kindness. As she is settling into her new role, we are also helped out by Katie Shircliff who has been answering our very busy registration email for the past month. Katie will only be with us on a temporary basis, as she is also in the middle of law school. But she is proving to be invaluable during this transition. In a very short time we went from two part-time employees to two full-time and one part-time employee. Phew, that is a big change! And one that we hope translates into better communication with all of you, and more trainings throughout the world. We have updated the "about us" section to better introduce both Mary and Katie to you. I will also be adding information about Ida Brandtzaeg and Stig Torsteinson our wonderful trainers in Norway.

It is amazing to see how Circle of Security has grown in the past 26 months since I began working here. I was the first manager that Glen Cooper, Kent Hoffman, and Bert Powell hired. In 2011, the goal was to meet the previous year's training numbers. We reached those numbers in the first 6 months. This year, we exceeded those numbers in the first 3 months. None of us could have anticipated how fast these numbers would grow. We have automated the registration and payment process, instead of having to wait on one person to process the registration. We have completed translations and presented in new countries and communities around the world. It is very exciting that most of our trainings are selling out before the Early Bird registration date. But at the same time, it leaves some folks scrambling to get a seat! We are continuing to look at ways to increase training opportunities, we understand how frustrating it can be to have the desire to attend a training and use the materials but not have a training available to you.

Now that we have more support, we will begin rolling out the member side of our website. This will allow parents to connect with Registered Parent Educators (RPE) in their own community. This will also help the RPE's get the word out about their parent groups. We hope that this helps to create a community between RPEs, and helps to get the Circle of Security to many more families. We've had this in the wings, but were overwhelmed and unable to launch. We will begin rolling out by country so we don't overload our system (or our sanity). Keep an eye out for an email if you have attended a training.? It will have directions on how to log into the website and create your profile. But I'll continue to post updates as we begin in case you miss the email.

Thank you for all of your support for the Circle of Security. We love to hear the stories about the impact that this has on families. I know on a personal level how much this has impacted my relationship with my daughter. I hope everyone feels the same joy when they see the Circle at work.

Kind regards,


Endorsed Program in Western Australia We have been listed in the Government of Western Australia, Department for Communities, strategic framework guide as an Endorsed Program in evidence-based parenting programs.

Raising Confident Kids KING 5 News in Seattle produced this story written by Saint Bryan about "Circle of Security" in April 2008.

Spokane psychotherapists Bert Powell, Glen Cooper and Kent Hoffman pioneered the "Circle of Security" ? a program that helps parents bond with their babies. If parents don't bond, a child's future can be filled with insecurity and sorrow.


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Attachment and Brain Development: Middle Prefrontal Cortex Wed, 07 Jun 2017 10:32:53 +0000 Over the past 10-15 years, the research of brain development and the research of attachment have had some interesting intersections. One of these intersections has to do with a part of the brain called the middle prefrontal cortex. For parents who struggle with certain decisions their children make, learning about this part of the brain could offer some support. 

Brain information can be complicated to understand but it is an important part of how attachment works. Daniel Siegel does a wonderful job explaining this information to parents and professionals. To hear some of the information directly from him, check out his Hand Model of the Brain.


The frontal lobe of the brain is just behind the forehead and isn’t fully matured until our mid-20s. This lobe allows for anticipation and prediction, logic and reasoning, creativity and artistry, personality and decision-making and many other important tasks. Within the frontal lobe is the middle prefrontal cortex which is largely responsible for helping to calm down from big emotions. In order to do this, the middle prefrontal cortex develops nine crucial skills: 


Regulation of the body: the ability to have awareness of temperature, pain, hunger, etc

Attuned Communication: back and forth engaged conversation

Regulation of Emotion: awareness of and managing of emotions

Response Flexibility: being able to shift from one emotional response to another

Empathy: taking on another person’s emotional experience in order to offer support

Insight: being able to reflect on your own and other’s perspectives

Fear Extinction: the ability to self-soothe following a scary or anxious experience

Intuition: having a sense of what is in your best interest

Morality: knowing right and wrong


These abilities are developed in this order during the early years of life. As a baby grows, the middle prefrontal cortex will help them organize and understand the sensations in their body so they can let you know when they are hungry, tired or need to use the bathroom. Once they have begun to master that ability, this area of the brain then moves to mastering attuned communication, then regulation of emotion, then response flexibility and so on. 


An important thing to note is that the final development of this area is morality. There is a belief that very young children should know what is right and wrong, but their brains are often not developed enough for them to rely on themselves to figure this out. They must use our brains, support and help in making decisions for a large portion of their childhood years. 


One other important note about the middle prefrontal cortex is that it needs to essentially re-develop in the teenage years. During these years, this area of the brain will re-calibrate and master each of the skills again. Sarah-Jayne Blakemore has a wonderful Ted Talk on this subject. Some parents are baffled why their teenage son will suddenly only wear shorts in the winter (regulation of the body), or they can no longer have a conversation with their adolescent daughter (attuned communication). Teens struggle to be kind to one another (empathy) or understand different points of view (insight). There are probably many reasons that the teenage years are so difficult, but the demanding brain development of the middle prefrontal cortex is one of the factors!


As a parent of a young child who is learning to notice and integrate all the information of the world or as a parent of a teenager who is trying to find their place in the world, understanding part of what is happening in their brain may help you find the patience and wisdom to hang in there with your child in their moments of struggle. It could be that it’s not willful disobedience on their part. It could be a brain that is over stimulated and under supported. They need us to be present and available. They need us to walk through those moments with them in an engaged but not intrusive way. They need our brains to scaffold theirs until their brain is mature enough to really handle the complicated adult world. 


Remember, it takes the frontal lobe about 25 years to fully mature. Our children will need our guidance during all that time as they experience and integrate all that life has to offer.