The 3 Basic Needs of the Circle of Security

Going Out: Feeling safe and supportive to have the freedom and confidence to go out and explore the world. Exploration and new adventures are encouraged.

Coming In: Coming back in for comfort, protection and the filling of the emotional cup. Welcoming children back in from their exploration, helping them organize their feelings, and offering comfort and understanding.

Hands On: Caregiver is in charge in a kind way. The parent’s goal is to be Bigger, Stronger, Wiser and Kinder, so the child trusts the parent can help determine what is needed when the child feels lost, confused or out of control. The opposite of this “Coming In” is pain and frustration – which will always happen sometimes as part of the human experience.

Remember: There’s no such thing as a perfect parent. Perfection in meeting our children’s needs is not the goal. Positive effort, practice and “good enough” parenting is the goal.

Parenting Reflections:

  • Developmentally, what are your children working on with the Circle of Security: “Going Out, Coming In or Hands On?”
  • What attachment need is most natural/easiest for you to support? And what feels most challenging to support?

Parenting Practice:

  • This week when your children flip their lids, or after a flipped lid, see if you can name, “they are/were coming in on the Circle of Security” and “they need me to a secure base and safe haven” and “I can do this” in a way that speaks to you. If that is challenging, the first step is to be the secure base and safe haven for yourself first.
  • Remind yourself to keep breathing, and to be Bigger, Wiser, Stronger, & Kinder.
  • Be patient with yourself, just like you would be if you were learning how to play a new instrument or learning a new language. Remind yourself that perfection isn’t the goal, rather the goal is to be “good enough.”