1-Sentence-Summary: Raising A Secure Child teaches new parents how to feel confident that they can meet their child’s needs without making them too attached by outlining the experience that Hoffman, Cooper, and Powell have in helping parents form healthy attachments with their kids in ways that help them avoid becoming too hard on themselves and their children.
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Being a new parent is challenging. I know; I speak from experience. Is it tremendously rewarding to see the world through the eyes of a tiny human? Absolutely. But I’d be lying if there aren’t times where I make mistakes. All parents do.
The truth is, just because you’re a parent doesn’t mean you’re a childcare expert. But fortunately for us, there are parenting experts out there who can help us navigate the tougher child-rearing moments.
Kent Hoffman, Glen Cooper, and Bert Powell are child specialists who bring you their expert advice in the book Raising a Secure Child: How Circle of Security Parenting Can Help You Nurture Your Child’s Attachment, Emotional Resilience, and Freedom to Explore.
As specialists in attachment theory, they teach how to form healthy caregiver-child bonds that will ensure your child is both healthy and secure. Through their helpful chart, you can master what they call the “Circle of Security,” which tells you exactly what your child’s needs are, both when they leave to explore and return to you for security and comfort.
Here are 3 lessons in this book that will help you become a better parent:
- If you want your children to be healthy throughout their lives, you need to know how to form a secure attachment with them.
- The Circle of Security is a way to tell whether your child needs comfort or encouragement to be more self-sufficient.
- There’s no such thing as a perfect parent, and your mistakes can actually help your children.
Grab a notebook and get ready to have your parenting skills reach another level! Let’s get learning!
Lesson 1: Knowing how to form a secure attachment with your children is necessary if you want them to become well-adjusted adults.
After birth, babies are biologically programmed to attach to at least one person that they can rely on to respond to their needs. This attachment is secure, and according to attachment theory, it is likely the most important factor in whether or not the child will live a healthy physical and emotional life.
Attachment theory came about when psychologists noted that babies have an innate need for emotional comfort from caregivers. After World War II, psychologist John Bowlby observed that children he saw in orphanages were not thriving even though they were clothed, warm, and fed. Bowlby thought the problem must be from the one thing they didn’t have— a primary caregiver to rely on for comfort and reassurance.
Psychologist Harry Harlow expanded on the observations of Bowlby when he studied baby monkeys. He gave infant monkeys an option of a figure covered in cloth that felt similar to an adult monkey or a non-cuddly figure of wires that provided food. He found the baby monkeys consistently chose the cloth figure for comfort over the wire that provided sustenance.
When an attachment isn’t secure, their needs can go unmet, which leads to stress. The stress hormone cortisol causes systems in the body to slow down and become less effective. Cortisol can slow down metabolism, suppress the immune system, and even damages memory and thinking capabilities.
Not having secure attachments can even make it difficult for the child to have future relationships. Studies show us that a child with a secure attachment can better empathize and form secure relationships in adulthood.
Lesson 2: If you struggle to know whether to comfort your child or encourage them to be more independent, use The Circle of Security.
It’s hard to know when to comfort your child or encourage their independence. For this reason, the authors made the Circle of Security give a framework for parents to build secure attachments and balance both comfort and autonomy.
To start using the Circle of Security, picture the face of a clock. At the nine o’clock position is “secure base,” where your child departs from their clockwise journey around the circle. This can happen many times a day. While they are on the journey, before they come back to you, you can do things to help them feel safe.
Around three o’clock is when your child is exploring, but they still need your watchful care as support. There are four ways to meet their needs while they explore. The first is actually to watch what they are doing. Next, a child needs to be delighted. They need to celebrate small things, like getting to the top of a playground ladder.
Third, enjoy activities alongside her. Don’t direct her; join in with the exploration. Finally, help out. This can be physically helping her do something she can’t, like helping with the monkey bars or encouraging her to do something she needs courage.
When the child is at the bottom of the circle, on the way back to your “safe haven,” they also have needs. First is protection, such as making sure they know you’ll be there. The second is comfort, such as showing empathy when she talks about how she felt. Third, delight in them by smiling and making them feel wanted. Last, organize their feelings. This can be letting her know that her nervous feelings were okay.
Lesson 3: You aren’t a perfect parent, but you can use that as an advantage when raising your kids.
Sometimes as a parent, you need to remind yourself that nobody is perfect. We all get stressed out, tired, or busy and sometimes miss our child’s cues. When we miss our child’s cues, the author calls this “rupturing the circle.”
But don’t worry, there is a way to fix mistakes, which will give you a chance to improve your bond with your child. Take comfort in the fact that a “perfect” parent would actually be a bad thing because they would set their kid up with unrealistic expectations that all of their needs in life will be met.
To repair a rupture, acknowledge what need didn’t get met, and apologize for it. Doing this will teach your child that good things can follow bad things, and even good relationships have mistakes at times. It’s important not to ignore ruptures in the circle because this can make a child feel like their need was wrong.
A poor caregiver sometimes will try to smile through everything, even when their kid is crying. They might tell them to stop crying and be happy. Doing this can make children think that they need to suppress other emotions. This is because they can only be close to their caregiver by smiling.
Kids need to know that it’s okay to have emotions. But most of all, don’t panic. It’s okay if you aren’t perfect all the time; as long as you can recover from your mistakes, you will make a more resilient child.
Raising A Secure Child Review
I love Raising A Secure Child, and I really think you will too! Not only did it help me find ways to be a better parent, but it also helped me reconcile some of the belief systems. Things that I’ve had from the way my parents raised me. I highly recommend this book and being more intentional with raising kids, too!
Who would I recommend the Raising A Secure Child summary to?
The 35-year-old mother has a hard time connecting with her toddler when they cry. The 47-year-old father, who isn’t sure how to bond with them. It can be anyone who wants to raise healthy and well-adjusted children.