Gentle Parenting and the Circle of Security

 In Child behaviour, Parenting, You & your family
Home » Gentle Parenting and the Circle of Security



Many family struggle to understand the often bewildering behaviour of their children and this is perfectly natural. Some behaviour elicits strong emotions and frustrations in family, making it difficult to understand and meet the needs of our child. But it is how we respond to these behaviours that impact on our children. Our responses can affect a child’s ability to learn, grow and flourish, so it’s important that we give them the best support we can.

Part of the problem is that, as family, we are beholden to the social conditioning that shaped our own childhoods. A lot of behaviours that were once regarded as ‘naughty’ are now viewed quite differently. As modern family, it can seem like the rules have changed and we are left waiting to make the adjustment ourselves. That’s where the framework of psychology can help. The Circle of Security is an interventionist paradigm designed to support family in their relationship with children and their emotional behaviours.


About the Circle of Security

The Circle of Security framework uses a graphic representation – a circle – to demonstrate what is needed for a child to reach certain developmental stages with a sense of security. At the top and the bottom of the circle is a family. The top represents exploration and the bottom represents protection.

The circle symbolises the connectedness between risk and security and the family is seen as continuous through these stages. Ideally, a child will feel safe to explore the world both emotionally and physically. The desire to explore must be anchored by the feeling of security for the balance to be achieved.

When things are out of balance, wild tantrums can ensue. When young children are torn between the urge to investigate their world and the fear that accompanies this exploration, frustration and high emotion often results. The Circle of Security seeks to nurture positive and secure attachments between family and children to reduce the imbalance between the desire to explore and the fear of exposure.


How Does The Circle of Security Work?

Understanding the emotions behind your child’s behaviour is the key to developing a new relationship with that behaviour. For example, when tantrums, throwing objects and even hitting occur, ask yourself; where is the behaviour coming from and how do you respond?

If the high emotion has occurred in response to something, perhaps fear or hurt, then your child needs to know they are safe in that feeling. When a child is admonished over and again for a behaviour that is borne of insecurity, they will begin to accept and deeply internalise the feeling of insecurity. This leads to a host of other behaviours that can become more difficult to heal as time goes on.

While it can be hard, it is crucial for family to stay steady and strong during these times, and importantly, to seek out support.

Educators at Mindarie Keys Early Learning School understand that family need support too. If you would like to find out more about the Circle of Security or for more information about Mindarie Keys Early Learning School, contact us today.

Enquire about our centre and enrolment program

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Social media and your childYoung boy receiving an immunisation by a professional health care worker