Questioning, wondering, analysing, examining, watching, comparing, second guessing….sound familiar?!? All states of mind that sit very close by when it comes to parenting, and the journey of hope that above all else, what we are doing is what is ‘right/best’ for the spirited little humans that we are raising.
These familiar states of mind are often eased momentarily by a new strategy, a new routine, a new parenting book, a new sleep aid, a new toy that promises to help your child develop into the Einstein of the toddler world.
Just the thought of this endless mental search is exhausting right?!?
What I want to offer you in this new blog..is not another strategy, but a glimpse into a new (or maybe familiar) way of looking and responding to your babes. One that has helped me, and helped many I’ve worked with…find a way of seeing the often seemingly complicated behaviours and expressions of our little people.
Because even for someone who dapples into this as part of her profession…when it comes our own parenting journeys…sometimes the mental and emotional weight and busyness of the everyday, has us forgetting to step back and breathe before stepping forward.
The Circle of Security…This came into my life at a time in my professional career that was helpful, and a time in my parenting journey which was timely, to say the least (sweet little bun number one in the oven).
If you don’t know, Circle of Security teaches a parenting road map laying out the emotional and relational needs of our children. Helping us to navigate what they are trying to communicate to us. And what it is they need from us to be able to go out into the world whilst holding a sense of safety, how to return when they are in need. With the overarching, or maybe foundational goal of learning how to build safe and loving relationships.
At the time I did the training, I took away what I needed, in order to improve my practice as a clinician…in hope of helping the parents, children, and families I worked with. What I didn’t realize at the time was, I was building a foundation, on top of the foundation I had been given by my own parents….a platform that would allow me and now my partner, to consider our children, their needs, and our parenting choices with a lens that looks toward the humans that we are raising, in their entirety.
You see what COS gives you as parents, as carers, as people who take part in raising tiny humans…is a map. A map, which gives us a look, a glimpse, an insight into what message rests behind our children’s behaviour.
My journey into parenting, and my relationship with each of my babies has been unique, different, unexpected in wonderful and weird ways.
I have often have caught myself questioning, second guessing, wondering if my approach to parenting, my approach to loving, my approach to caring for each of my children has been the same or different. And the reason for this is them.
My babies are magnificently similar and different. And it’s the differences that have me questioning. But what COS has given me is a frame for the difference. COS explores what children need from us to safely and securely move away to explore, learn and grown, and what they need from us in order to return to feel comforted, seen, loved.
In my attempts to question the differences between my two little ones, one a confident independent explorer who is often hands deep in tactile exploration…and one a curious, cautious observer who’s quite sensitive nature shines when she is close by those she feels safest with….had me asking questions like…have I failed in some way? Should I have done more to teach my eldest how to come to me when she is upset…have I spent too much time with my littlest, and now she doesn’t know how to go into the world without me…?
But by reflecting back on the COS framework, and holding the different temperaments of my babes closely…what I see now, is not that I or my babes have faults or weaknesses, but that each has a strength that is different to the other. Coincidently, the differences in their strengths lie on either side of the Map.
One knows how to explore the world around her with ease, but occasionally needs support and guidance to know how and when to come back from reassurance, comfort and help with big feelings. The other, knows just how to seek and receive comfort, emotional reassurance and feelings of safety, but sometimes needs help to explore the world that surrounds her.
Neither of these ways of being are worse or better, and neither of them are due to different parenting ways. But what they do require a difference in understanding and a difference in the way in which we consciously and sensitively parent each of our children.
And if we are able to do this, look towards them with a lense of gentle curiosity, in an attempt to learn, know and understand just who they are, and just what they need from us, we will indeed see them flourish. And we will be given the guidance we often find ourselves looking for, as parents, wanting the very best for our children.