Circle of Security Parents Blog Wed, 31 Dec 1969 16:00:00 +0000 en-US daily 1 It's Never Too Late I invite you to share with me your comments, reflections, Circle stories and individual experiences of the Circle of Security in your daily life and in facilitating COSP. Your submissions may be used in future blog posts, with all identifying information excluded, unless you specifically request to be identified. Contact me at

Finding our Way out of Mean, Weak, and Gone Fri, 30 Sep 2016 12:25:48 +0000 Let's face it. Sometimes being a parent is just plain hard.

Let's face it. Sometimes being a parent is just plain hard. During a recent COS-P group when we were discussing mean, weak, and gone, I listened to a mom as she shared a struggle in her home that got everyone involved. Dad was trying to teach his eight-year old son how to throw a baseball, and the son was struggling with learning the skill. Both were getting very frustrated and, no surprise, the son threw down his glove. Dad yelled at him to pick it up. The son refused. Dad yelled again to pick up the glove. The son again refused. Dad yelled louder. The son stormed off. At this point Mom decided to step in. She was quite upset with her husband for yelling and getting mean with their son, and she started yelling at him to knock it off. ?Why do you have to be such a jerk? Go apologize.? Dad refused. There are different ways to make sense of this scenario.?If we use the Circle of Security we see the child's acting out as a call for help. Where is the child on the Circle? Bottom. What is the need? Organize my feelings. We then use the Circle to focus on Dad stepping off the Circle. What was happening for Dad? Shark Music. Instead of seeing his son?s behavior as communication of a need, he was seeing his son as the problem. He then listened to his Shark Music, took his hands off the Circle and turned to Mean. This caused a rupture with his son. The Mom then began to see?how she was mad at her husband for being Mean to their son, but then what did she do? ?She turned around and responded exactly the same way?? she, too, got Mean. But Mom was trying to help. How does this happen? How does she also turn to mean? Shark Music. Mom stepped off the Circle and was no longer able to see the need. This is where an opportunity for mom to reflect was helpful. Once again we used the Circle. Where was her husband on the Circle? Bottom. What was the need? Organize my feelings. Mom then recognized the need in her husband for kindness, compassion, and understanding of his frustration, so that he could then organize his feelings and be the Hands for their son and meet the need. Being in the presence of Mean, Weak, and Gone can leave us feeling empty, upset, and feeling all alone. Being met with kindness, compassion, and understanding helps to?fill us with love, confidence, and possibilities. In the same way, when we see our children?s behavior as communication of a need, we can find empathy. Through empathy we find caring ways to help. _________________________________________________________

I invite you to share with me your comments, reflections, Circle stories and individual experiences with facilitating COS-P and in your daily life. Your submissions may be used in future blog posts, with all identifying information excluded, unless you specifically request to be identified. Contact me at

A Mom Discovers How to Help Her Struggling Teen Fri, 30 Sep 2016 12:03:50 +0000 Can changes in how a parent responds change the way a teen behaves? See what this mom discovers after participating in COS-P.

Last year the mom of a struggling teenager participated in a COS-P group. Her son had recently participated in a month long intensive day treatment program because of depressive symptoms, struggles at school, and feelings of isolation. The mom described how her son would talk about how dumb he was at school, how he didn?t have any friends, and how he had nothing to look forward to in his future. His mom responded by trying to prove wrong his complaints. She pointed out all the ways he was a good student. She listed off all his friends. She talked about all the possibilities of things for him to do after high school. During a COS-P group, this mom began to recognize that her son was on the bottom of the Circle* when he shared with her his struggles, and that she responded to him by trying to reassure him and explore with him on the top of the Circle* by pointing out all the possibilities for him and the things happening in his life. She shared how hard it was for her to Be With*?him in his struggle, and her fear (Shark Music*) that he would go to a dark place. She went on to talk about wanting to protect him. ?I don?t know what I think I am protecting him from, his own feelings?? She used her new awareness to lean into her Shark Music* and Be With* her son, expressing empathy and understanding during those first moments when he shared his distress to her. It?s been a year since this group. Last week I ran into this mom, and she shared with me an update of her relationship with her son. She expressed how different things are, and how well he is doing. In the past, when he was distressed, her son would take off on his own, or isolate in his room, or refuse to go to school. Now when he is distressed, he seeks her out. We smiled together and I said, ?He turns to you! Instead of turning away, he comes in on the bottom of the Circle and you welcome him in*.? We both smiled and her eyes teared up, and so did mine. The Circle of Security. *Learn more about?Being With,?Shark Music and how to use the Circle of Security graphic by watching our Animated Videos on our website. __________________________________________________________________________________

I invite you to share with me your comments, reflections, Circle stories and individual experiences with parenting and the Circle of Security. Your submissions may be used in future blog posts, with all identifying information excluded, unless you specifically request to be identified. Contact me at

If you have met one person with autism... Fri, 07 Oct 2016 15:50:23 +0000 Katie Jessop, MA, a LMHC and Registered Circle of Security Parenting Facilitator in Spokane, WA, shares her professional and personal insight into autism and its complexities in our latest blog post:

As a provider for families with children on the autism spectrum, this statement is the most accurate one I know of to explain the complexity of autism. Your child’s needs will vary greatly based on age, functionality, therapeutic intervention, personality, and many other components.

As a parent of a teenager who has tested on and off the spectrum for all of his life, I also understand the complexity. There was a huge learning curve with my oldest and I had already been in the professional world of attachment and autism for several years.

The providers and therapies in your child’s life are important to their independence. With a lot of hard work and follow through, there will be breakthroughs with speech/language, movement, eye contact, friendships, personal hygiene, and more. It is a critical part of the life of a child with autism.

However, relationships breakthroughs are just as critical for your child. Whether or not your child can show you that you are the most important person in their life, it is a fact that you are the most important person in their life. Your ability to be consistently available to your child in a calm, interested and connected way is crucial to his or her whole development. Your ability to offer support and understanding when your child is swamped by his or her emotions is vital. The only person in the whole world that your child can connect and learn from in this way is YOU.

If you have met one person with autism, then you have met one person with autism.

Whether or not your child can directly cue you about their need to connect doesn’t matter as much as you remembering that your child needs to connect. If you can remember that your child is waiting to feel loved, nurtured, connected and safe, then I trust that you will look for moments to do just that. I remember the moment I realized that my son wanted to hug me but had no idea how to do it. I had to teach him step by step how to hug. The hugs were awkward for both of us for a long time, but now they are some of the best hugs I get.

I’ve learned from the parents I work with how tuned in and committed parents can be. You know your child. You know what is too much and what is not enough. You know if your child can tolerate hugs or foot massages or being tickled. You know if your child needs a break or needs to be supported while working through something difficult. Continue to be there for them in the wise ways that only you know and only you can provide.

Lastly, please remember this: you will need help and support along the way. You can’t give your child emotional support a thousand times a day if you are not receiving emotional support. This does not mean you are weak or you don’t know what you are doing. It means you are creative, strong and brave. It means you are committed to your child in a way that you have probably never been committed to anything else in your life. That commitment will change everything.



Katie M. Jessop, MA, has been a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in the Spokane area for the past 11 years and attended her first COS training 13 years ago. She works with individuals of all ages and biological, foster and adoptive families. She and her husband have three sons: one adopted teenager, one biological toddler and are currently expecting another.

Hidden in Plain Sight Fri, 30 Sep 2016 11:54:54 +0000 The Circle of Security® is about switching the focus of our attention away from the behavior and onto the relationship needs that are always there, Hidden in Plain Sight.

You might be familiar with the I Spy books where children read simple picture clues and rhyming riddles to try and find the hidden pictures on each page. It can be just as fun as a good game of hide and seek. And let’s face it, there’s nothing cuter than those moments when your child points to the newly discovered hidden key and then searches your eyes for a moment together of shared delight.

Where the I Spy books help to strengthen a child’s observation skills, the Circle of Security® roadmap helps to increase caregiver’s observation skills. Using the Circle roadmap, we are better able to shift our attention away from focusing on the child’s behavior, and onto what is Hidden in Plain Sight.

When we focus on behavior we tend to think about either reinforcing the desirable behaviors or extinguishing those we don’t like. While having consequences for behavior is useful, when the limits don’t work, or the changes don’t last, or worse yet, the outcome is not what we wanted, there is a tremendous pull in us to make the intervention bigger stronger, longer, louder, etc. Can you think of a time when this might have happened to you? Did your parent ever threaten to ground you till you were 18?

The Circle of Security® is about switching the focus of our attention away from the behavior and onto the relationship needs that are always there, Hidden in Plain Sight. We use the Circle to focus on meeting children’s needs so we can find caring ways to help.

Because the Circle of Security® is always Hidden In Plain Sight, learning to read the Circle roadmap offers caregivers a quick, no-nonsense, straightforward way of tracking relationship needs.

Using the Circle roadmap, we are able to solve the riddle of what our children really need from us and see that it is always Hidden in Plain Sight.

Learn more about how to use the Circle of Security® roadmap by watching our video animation featured on our website.


I invite you to share with me your comments, reflections, Circle stories and individual experiences with facilitating the COS-P program and in your daily life. Your submissions may be used in future blog posts, with all identifying information excluded, unless you specifically request to be identified. Contact me at

The Thirteenth Flaw of Parenting Thu, 27 Oct 2016 17:49:11 +0000 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. (An excerpt from an upcoming book by Hoffman, Cooper, and Powell: Raising a Secure Child – Guilford Press. Expected publication February. 2017)

Pretend for a moment that 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.



Shark Music Behind Closed Doors Tue, 21 Feb 2017 12:33:38 +0000 During a COS-P group, a young mother shared a story about her struggle to make sense of what was real danger and what was her own Shark Music.

Circle of Security uses Shark Music to help parents explore how uncomfortable feelings left over from experiences from their own past can influence their current relationship with their child and the way they think and feel about parenting.  


During a parenting COS-P group, a young mother shared a story about her struggle to make sense of what was real danger and what was her own Shark Music.


As she tells it, her two children (nine year old son and five year old daughter) were playing together in her daughter’s room.  They had spent the entire morning setting up a castle and the battle field, putting together dozens of miniature figures – soldiers, mounted calvary, the princess and prince and of course all the members of the royal court. They were having a grand time and getting along quite well in their shared adventure. The mother checked on them frequently, nothing unusual about that. 


But after awhile she began to grow agitated because she kept finding that the bedroom door was closed. Each time she would open the door and tell them to leave it open. Her son would protest and say that they needed the floor space to fit all the pieces, and the door was in the way. Out of nowhere the mom was aware of a rising intensity in her body, and felt overcome with anger and fear and rage and had to resist the sudden urge to lash out at her son. She realized she was having terrible Shark Music and retreated to her room where she shut the door and had a long cry.


In the parent group the mom talked about how at first she felt ashamed at wanting to hurt her son. She then shared how overcome she was in that moment with the fear that something horrible would happen to her daughter if allowed to remain alone behind closed doors with her older brother. “I have never been consciously aware of how I have lived my entire life with a fear of what happens to little girls behind closed doors. In my daughter’s young life, I have been vigilant in my efforts to protect her from the harm that I endured. And in trying to protect her, I have intruded on her efforts to explore, to learn and grow and enjoy the world. I’ve been that helicopter mom, always there, hovering, watching, waiting. And what I see now is a child who is overly self reliant, protesting any involvement or help from me.”


This was a painful realization for this mom. But here’s the good news. Because she was able to recognize her Shark Music and reflect on what was happening for her, she didn’t lash out at her son. And she now recognizes how her past fears are currently playing out in her relationship with her daughter. And with this deeper understanding, this mother now has a choice to do things differently the next time she hears her Shark Music.


I invite you to share with me your comments, reflections, Circle stories and individual experiences with facilitating the COS-P and in your daily life. Your submissions may be used in future blog posts, with all identifying information excluded, unless you specifically request to be identified. Contact me at

The Balance of Being-With Mon, 27 Feb 2017 15:31:45 +0000 Being-With is, in many ways, at the heartbeat of our Circle of Security approach.

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 other’s 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 Raising a Secure Child, by Hoffman, Cooper & Powell, 2017]

Can Less-Than-Perfect Really Be Enough? Mon, 03 Apr 2017 15:57:53 +0000 One definition of “perfect” is  to make something completely free from faults or defects, or as close to such a condition as possible. In relationships, it seems like this definition could provide the key to success. If you can make sure there aren’t any problems or arguments, then the relationship will be solid. If you don’t make any mistakes as a parent, your child will respect you and turn out okay. Whew. What a relief. 


Except, of course, none of us are perfect. 

Usually the need to be perfect comes from a bit of anxiety. Worried that something might go wrong, a person tries to figure out the situation and apply the best approach so the chance of success is higher. If you can figure it out and it works, there is relief and satisfaction. Job well done! But then the next situation starts and you have to get back at it. And life gets more complex and there are multiple situations at the same time. You don’t always get it right and that is embarrassing so you have to try harder and harder. It gets exhausting. 


People may start to notice is how hard you are working but something about it isn’t quite working. The desire to make everything right is there, but the outcome of everything being all right isn’t there. 


It can be so confusing.


Being “good enough” doesn’t actually sound good enough on the surface. When you are used to overachieving, it no longer feels like over-achieving. It just feels like the normal amount of effort required. 


In parenting, we worry that if we are only good enough parents, our children won’t have the same opportunities or success that other children seem to have. Our children deserve the best so we must be the best. Except….


Good enough parenting is actually what our children need from us. This is backed up by research (“Raising A Secure Child” is a book dedicated to explaining this). Good enough parenting is when we can hold on to two things: first, that we are willing to hold onto our children’s best interests and second, that we will mess it up… probably pretty often. 


There is nothing clean about raising children. It will get messy in more than one way. Being good enough takes the pressure and anxiety out of the equation. When we know that we will mess it up, we aren’t trying to anticipate the situation for the “exact right way”. We are just in the situation, present to it and to our children. If it starts to get off track, we will notice it sooner and pause to see where it got off track. We may have to take charge and make a decision. We may have to apologize for not getting it and ask for clarification. We may have to figure it out together and come up with a compromise.


No matter how the situation gets resolved, being good enough will feel better for both you and the other person. Being a good enough parent will teach your child that you love them, want the best for them and are willing to get messy while you figure it out. It will teach your child that there are many ways to work something out and that you are in it together with them. You will come from a place of comfortable figuring-it-out-together instead of a place of uncomfortable have-to-figure-it-all-out-perfectly-now.

Parent's Instincts vs. Expert Advice Tue, 11 Apr 2017 10:47:54 +0000 Parents are often inundated with advice from professionals on the best ways to raise healthy children. Should parents follow the expert's advice or listen to their own instincts?


Last week, Circle of Security posted a blog on FaceBook that garnered some interesting conversation. “What is a Secure Attachment? And Why Doesn’t 'Attachment Parenting' Get You There?” was written by Diana Divecha, Ph.D. and can be found here


In the blog, the author explains the early history of attachment research, the three functions of a secure attachment, the types of insecure attachments, and brain development and its’ impact on attachment. She also discusses Circle of Security, which follows attachment research, and attachment parenting philosophy, which often does not. 


As with many blogs about parenting, there were a few comments about if mothers should just follow their instincts or follow the advice of experts. What a good question!


Circle of Security honors the wisdom of parents. We all have an ancient, hardwired desire (instinct) to do the best for our children. Our bodies, minds and spirits are set up in multiple ways to connect and care for these precious human beings. 


At the same time, we also know that all parents get off track. Childhood experiences, attachment styles, trauma and stress can all muddy the water and make parenting more difficult.   Decisions we make can feel right, but could also be hurting the relationship. 


Let’s look at an example. 


Maria is a mother to two children, ages 4 and 9. She has taken a Circle of Security Parenting group and has noticed that she is pretty good at staying in charge in a firm but kind way most of the time. She’s also good at supporting her children as they have adventures in the world, keeping an eye on boundaries for safety while sometimes enjoying the adventures too. Before the class, she would have said she was good at being with her children while they had big emotions. However, halfway through the class, she realizes that when her children become angry at her, she will often dismiss their anger. 


At the end of the class, Maria decides to talk to the facilitator about it and realizes that she wasn’t able to express much anger as a child. Additionally, she was in a relationship as a young woman that was controlling and difficult to leave. Both of these events make her feel like any anger is dangerous. When her children get angry, Maria has a hard time staying connected and patient. Sometimes she will change the subject, sometimes she will send the children to their rooms, sometimes she will get angry back at them. 


Maria’s instincts around most of her parenting were attuned to her children’s needs. Anger, however, muddied the water. Once she realized this, Maria had more choice over how to parent in those moments. At first, she did the same things as before and only noticed it after she messed it up. After a little while, she could stay calmer and hang in there for longer. It wasn’t always pretty, but it was better than before. Maria talked it over with some of her friends that parent in similar ways and got some good ideas. Over time, she noticed that she was getting better at staying Bigger, Stronger, Wiser and Kind when her children became angry. She still messed it up occasionally, especially if she was stressed out, but it was easier to talk with the children later and let them know she was sorry. 


Circle of Security believes that a parent’s natural way of being has an essential, innate wisdom. COS also knows that experts and research can help offer a “roadmap” of sorts to help parents notice when they inevitably get off track. Once a parent is reflective and aware of their strengths and struggles, their innate wisdom gets centered. The parent’s state of mind is open and connected, their instincts are to securely attach and the decisions they make as a parent will be Bigger, Stronger, Wiser and Kind.


When A Child Won't Listen Thu, 20 Apr 2017 11:41:06 +0000 Sometimes parents have a difficult time setting limits and have to rely on too many tricks to get their kids to listen.  Making decisions with COS in mind can help parents stay connected and in charge. 

Mark was at the park with his 5-year-old daughter, Anna. It was a bright, warm sunny day and they were having fun together. Anna was telling her father how to play the game and he was enjoying letting her lead the play. The chased each other, went down the slides, played on the swings and imagined they were butterflies. 


When it came time to leave, Mark gave a warning that they would need to leave in a few minutes, but when it came time, the father was ready to go but Anna was not. She wanted to keep playing because it was so much fun!

The father kept it light-hearted and agreed to a few more minutes but then it would really be time to leave. A few minutes later, Anna was still not ready. 


Mark suggested that they play more at home. Anna said no. Mark asked if she wanted a snack that was in the car. Anna didn’t want that snack, she wanted to stop for ice cream. The father said it was fine to get ice cream, but it was time to go. The child kept playing. Mark then started to get annoyed and a little angry. He loved playing with his daughter but hated it when she wouldn’t listen. He tried redirecting her and getting her to walk to the car with him. He tried to offer something else she might like. He tried to hold her hand and pull her gently to the car but she refused. 


He might get angry and yell or threaten to take away a toy or privilege. He might give up and sit on a bench until she is ready to go. Either way, she is still in charge. 



Children need parents to let them lead sometimes, especially during play. It allows the child’s world to open up for a period of time and discover new ways of being. It allows them a chance to pretend being in charge and to see how that feels. Children need room to explore and play and experience new things and they need their parents to give them the space to do that. 


However, children also need to have a sense that parents are in charge. It makes them feel safe and secure knowing that even though they get to lead sometimes, the parent will make the difficult decisions and stick to it. 


When we find ourselves trying to talk our child into something, it may be time to re-evaluate if we need to take charge a little sooner and a little firmer, which helps us be kinder parents in the end. Getting impatient while we ineffectively try to set a boundary will often result in the child feeling confused and the parent feeling frustrated.


If it is time to leave a playground, or get to work or to school, parents must be willing to firmly and kindly help children transition from one activity to the next. It should be a part of the everyday routine of being together. No rewards or punishments required. Just a calm, no-nonsense here’s-how-it’s-going-to-be. It’s time to get socks and shoes on. It’s time to walk to the car. Please get your backpack. I see you need help today in putting on your coat. It’s hard to leave when you are having some much fun but it’s time to go for today. 


Being Bigger, Stronger, Wiser and Kind means that you can enjoy and support lots of moments of your child’s independence but it also means that you will be willing to actively be in charge when it’s necessary. A child who is struggling with transitions or limits needs a firm, kind parent who will follow through; this offers the child an experience of security, structure and safety. 

Why Are You Doing This? Sun, 23 Apr 2017 14:34:42 +0000 It can be hard to figure out what our children need from us, especially when we are feeling some type of pressure. Taking a step back to breathe and observe can change the course. 

Brenda and her 3-year-old, Jasmyn, show up to a toddler gymnastics class. Jasmyn is in a sparkly leotard and has her hair pulled back into a ponytail. She looks excited and a little nervous because she has been looking forward to this class for a few weeks. They walk into the gym where there are many other children. Some are walking on balance beams, some jumping on trampolines, some flipping around bars with the help of a coach. It looks so fun. 

When it is time for Jasmyn to sit with her coach and the other kids, she clings to her mother. Brenda encourages her daughter to join the coach but this makes Jasmyn child cling harder to her mother. Brenda starts to feel impatient as her daughter hides behind her. Brenda gets angry and Jasmyn stomps her foot. The mother threatens that they will leave and Jasmyn pouts and remains silent. She is still hiding but also watching all the things that are happening in the gym. 


Both the mother and the child are in a bind. The mother doesn’t want to leave. She has paid money for the class and she knows the child will enjoy it once she joins in. The child wants to join in but it’s all so new and exciting and scary. Both feel overwhelmed and aren’t sure what to do next. 

At any of these junctions, we have a chance to stop, observe, figure out what our child might need and change course. In the moment, though, this is hard. This parent may be feeling pressure because she is worried about all the other parents watching her and about the money she spent on the class. She may be feeling anxious that her daughter won’t actually like the class and wondering if she made a bad decision enrolling her. Maybe she worries that her daughter isn’t ready for something like this and they should just go home where it feels safer and more known. 


Brenda decides to sit with her daughter on the benches and they watch together. Jasmyn is acclimating herself to this new environment. Brenda is just trying to figure this out and buy herself some time. 

Brenda puts her arm around her daughter, holding her, and takes a breath. Tentatively she says, “I wonder if this feels a little scary because it’s new.”

Jasmyn looks at her mother with big eyes. She nods her head. 

The mother says, “Would you like to sit here with me for a bit until you’re ready?” 

Within a short time, Jasmyn is animated watching the other children. She is bouncing in her seat and her eyes light up with all the movement. Brenda walks her daughter out to join in the with class and this time there is no resistance. Just joy. 

The mother walks back to the bench and waves to her daughter.