I have a whole stack of parenting books that I read when my children were young. I was desperate to learn effective skills so I could correct their behavior and guide them to be obedient and kind. I believed obedience put children on a straight path toward a rewarding adulthood (and affirmed me as a “good” mother). It never occurred to me that my children’s behavior, the behavior I was trying to correct, was their way of telling me what they needed. And I had no idea at the time that reliably meeting their needs when possible combined with repairing ruptures when needed is a much better predictor of a satisfying adult life than simply focusing on obedience.
You probably know parents just like me. And they may be just as overwhelmed as I was. And maybe their children’s behavior is trying to tell them something too. But what could that be?
Help parents see the need beneath the behavior.
This is where science helps us out a bit. The human brain is hardwired for connection, for relationship. Think of a baby mirroring the faces his/her caregiver makes. It is a conversation, a give and take, a pitch and catch. I smile… you smile. I blink… you blink. I laugh… you laugh. This creates a feeling of connection. Words are not necessary. It is a conversation of the heart.
And in this conversation of the heart each of us needs a secure base from which to explore AND a safe haven to which to return. As we explore, we learn about our world and we gain mastery over our bodies and particular tasks; and with the help of our parent or other caregiver, we learn to manage the emotions that arise from our exploration. After exploration, our need for connection leads us back to the comfort of our parent or other caregiver to help us make sense of our experience and to enjoy the good feelings that come with being seen and known and accepted by another person. The behaviors I was trying to correct when my children were young were simply their way of telling me, “I need to explore, but you aren’t letting me” or “I need you to help me learn to calm down when I’m angry” before they had adequate language with which to communicate those complex concepts.
The good news is that the need beneath the behavior is hidden in plain sight. With a little information and some practice, parents can become adept at interpreting what their child’s behavior is trying to communicate. Watch the following short video to learn how the Circle of Security approach to parenting can help the parents in your community.
Resources for Parents in Your Community
Consider sponsoring a workshop with a small group of parents to help them learn the skills and concepts of Circle of Security Parenting. In just 8 short weeks the parents in your community can discover that the pathway toward being more joyful and less overwhelmed as a parent.
If not a workshop, maybe gather a group of parents for a book study.
Or share this book as a resource with parents of young children who want to know more about the needs of their child that are hidden in plain sight. Remember to affirm that there is no such thing as perfect parenting, but good enough parenting creates a safe and secure environment in which children can build skills and confidence that lead to a healthy, satisfying, and connected life.
If you would like to learn more about Circle of Security Parenting, check out their website https://www.circleofsecurityinternational.com