Artwork for podcast I AM MOM Parenting Podcast
EP26 - Creating a Circle of Security for Your Child
Episode 2626th October 2021 • I AM MOM Parenting Podcast • Dimple Arora & Shaista Fatehali
00:00:00 00:29:32

Share Episode


The concept of The Circle of Security is based on decades of attachment research to help parents know what to look for in the needs of their child.  At any given age, your child is somewhere on the circle.  This eye-opening concept will give you the confidence that your child will come back to you for long-lasting security and you will be able to welcome them with open arms.


Be sure to listen for:

·      How the circle of security works when kids are young

·      The three basic needs on the circle

·      What is expected of you as a parent during each phase of the circle

·      What happens to the parent-child relationship when the circle of security is not honoured

·      The benefits to using the circle of security

·      Using the circle of security to resolve parent-child conflicts at any age

·      Strategies to help you use the circle of security and create a long-lasting healthy relationship with your child

About the Hosts:

About Dimple Arora – Founder of Mindful Evolution

Dimple Arora is the founder of Mindful Evolution (ME) — a parenting movement that aims to empower parents and their kids towards positive transformation and life changing thought, one emotion and one choice at a time.

Dimple is an expert in women and teen empowerment and specializes in helping individuals reduce the debilitating effects of stress and anxiety using mindfulness, nutrition, EFT tapping and other energy psychology modalities. Dimple is a Certified Life Coach, EFT and NLP Practitioner, Holistic Nutritionist and Energy Therapist. She holds degrees in mathematics, business, and education and was previously employed in the corporate world and as a high school math teacher.

You can book a complimentary coaching call with Dimple on her website at and connect with her on social media. 




About Shaista Fatehali – Founder of Thrive Kids

Shaista Fatehali is the founder of Thrive Kids BC where she works with children and families to help nurture connection, empower a sense of self - worth and discover what is needed for individual families to thrive. Shaista is a speaker and the author of the children’s book BACK HOME; which has received accolades nationwide. She is a certified children’s and parent life coach and works with clients to build soft skills such as interpersonal awareness, effective communication, emotional agility emotional regulation, problem solving, transition planning and mindfulness . As a teacher and mother of two young girls, her true passion lies in giving her children, her students and clients the tools to reach their most true authentic selves.

To book a complimentary call with Shaista or to learn more about Shaista and the programs she offers at Thrive Kids BC, please visit her website at


Facebook :






Thanks for Listening!

We are so grateful to have you join us!  To continue the conversation and connect with us and other like minded moms, head on over to join our free Facebook

 I AM MOM Parenting Community!   We are honoured to use this podcast as a platform for real mom conversations that help you feel inspired to take action to create a family environment where everyone can thrive. We want you to not only feel inspired as a parent, but as a WOMAN. 

If you know of someone who can benefit from this message or who would be an awesome addition to our community, please share using the social media buttons on this page!

Please post questions or notes about this episode in the comments section below! 


Follow Us!

We would love to keep you updated on every episode! To get automatic updates of new podcast episodes released every week, please follow us on the podcast app that you use on your mobile device.  You can also subscribe to our email lists on our websites Mindful Evolution and Thrive Kids for a free gift and weekly podcast reminders! 


Leave Us an Apple Podcasts Review 

We pour our heart and soul into making this podcast a valuable part of your week. We appreciate every bit of feedback to create an exceptional experience for you.  Ratings and reviews from our listeners help us to improve our content and your experience. Your review is also critical in helping us to become visible so others can find us on their podcast apps. If you have a minute, an honest review on iTunes would be much appreciated! Thank you so much! Have a beautiful day!


Shaista Fatehali:

Imagine being present, calm and connected, while creating a family environment where everyone can thrive.

Dimple Arora:

Welcome to the im mom parenting podcast, providing inspiration and actionable steps to manifest the meaningful and magical life you desire for you and your family.

Shaista Fatehali:

We are your hosts dimple, Aurora, founder of mindful evolution and shape that the daily founder of Thrive kids.

Dimple Arora:

Thank you for sharing the I am mom journey with us. Let's get started.

Shaista Fatehali:

When you close your eyes, and you picture your child as an adult, what does their life look like? Actually just take a moment to do this right now. So just close your eyes. And picture your child as an adult. Picture your child as a 30 year old. Now, when you describe their life, what words would you use? Do you want them to be happy and fulfilled, hardworking and persistent? The characteristics of secure attachment are one of the most researched aspects of attachment. Insecurity itself is such a gift. And we give it to our kids through our words, our interactions and our healthy relationship with them. Now, of course, there are going to be times when we feel lost, or without a clue about what our child might need from us. Now imagine what it might be like if you were able to make sense of what your child was really asking from you. Today we are going to talk about the circle of security. The circle of security is actually a parenting program. And it's based on decades of research about how secure parent child relationships can be supported and strengthened. This concept of circle of security is one that I absolutely love, because it is so related to our last episode on good enough parenting. And you will see that through the circle of security, your relationship with your children doesn't have to be perfect.

Dimple Arora:

I am so glad that you suggested we do this topic because it is so eye opening and enlightenment enlightening for parents, we have not been taught how to meet the needs of our child. We combine the way that we were parented and then the advice from other people and then we combine it with our own instincts. And we come up with this parenting way of life that we're you know, struggling with most of the time, right. And we worry that we're not doing a good job. So the circle of security is such an amazing visual concept to help you understand how to meet the needs of your child. And people of all ages have attachment needs. And what I love about the circle of security is that it can work for you and your child when your child is at any age. Okay. And so what happened was Glenn Cooper, Kent Hoffman and Bert Powell, they turned the ideas from attachment theory into the graphic of a circle. And this circle examines the pattern that most children show when interacting with their primary attachment figure, which is usually parents, but it could be a guardian could be a foster parent. And it outlines the important tasks that parents should complete, to help their child develop a secure attachment and the important needs of children.

Shaista Fatehali:

So this graphic, like this visual, visual graphic, oh my gosh, like when I first you know, to tell you the truth. I actually didn't know much about circle of security until a few months ago. I just bits and pieces, but and that's because I was able to really visualize this graphic. I know that it's been so beneficial for me, right? So with this graphic, so what it is, is like picture two hands, right? So you have two hands that are kind of like opening up so like the palms are touching. These are the palms, right? They're touching. And there's a circle that goes around, and the top part of the hand is the secure base of the left hand I should say. And the right Part of the hand, if I'm looking at this right is the safe haven, right? So basically, you have a child, when they're feeling this security with you, they will want to go and explore their world, right? So they'll go out, they'll start exploring their world. And what will happen is that as they are doing this, they will need you to watch over them, help them, and they may show signs that they want you to enjoy with them, and delight in them. Now, when that happens, there are and we've seen this, particularly with younger kids, where they need a safe haven. So this is when they come back to the other side of the hand, right. And this safe haven is representing them, representing a view welcomed welcoming them back to you. And for them to say, I need to protect me, comfort me, delight in me, and help me organize my feelings. And that comes out in what we see as maybe meltdowns, or tantrums or anxiety, this is when they need that safe haven.

Dimple Arora:

I love it, it's so amazing. Just starting up the hands and providing that base for them, giving them the freedom to go out and explore the world. Right. So I love the part of when they come back to us because they need to feel assured, at any age, that whenever they are ready, they can come back for comfort and protection. And we are going to welcome them with open arms. Okay, or open hands, I guess in this case. So when this happens, the child needs the parent to be really wise and kind when they come back around the circle. So imagine the visual for a second, right? So the child has has the secure base with you. And then they're free to go out and explore the world. And then they come back around, and you welcome them openly. And then what they need from you is for you to be in charge. And for you to be wiser than them. And kind. Okay, so it's really uncomfortable, right to imagine the the consequences of not having the circle. So it's really uncomfortable to be held too close when you want to be out exploring, right. So some of the parents that are that are holding on to their child so tight, not giving them the freedom to let go and explore the world. And then it's really uncomfortable, to be kept at a distance when you need comfort and support. So say you come back to your parent, but they're distant, or they're not welcoming you back with open hands, that's really uncomfortable. So to be without someone that is bigger, stronger, kind wise, when you're feeling lost and confused in life. That's not very helpful. Right. So that's why we want to use this graphic to help your child build that secure attachment with you. And if you actually watch children, and observe them when they are little, they will go out and play around the room. But they'll always come back to you for a hug, or they'll come back to you for some water or some comfort and then they'll go back out and they'll play in the room. Right. And this is how the secure circle of security is taught in a lot of programs around the world. Yeah, I mean, around the country.

Shaista Fatehali:

Yeah, even around the world, actually. Right. Like there's um, in Australia. It's so well known around the world with researchers, but not as well known with parents. Like I said it Yeah, I just found out about it a few months ago. And I have really found it so applicable in everyday life, right, just like you were saying, with young children when they're going out and I try and see it both with Malaysia and my house. So with Malaysia, it's a lot easier because she's a baby, right? So let's say for example, she went to physio today, and she's doing her physio stuff and she's out of her comfort zone, but I'm at the back and she feels secure enough in our attachment that she's able to perform those tasks. However, she was able to She came back to me right for hugs, when she felt like it was too much. And then she continued, what I found it more challenging was with my yell, because she's so much older, right. And it's not as obvious. And that's what I hear from a lot of parents with older children, that it's not as obvious to see when they are coming back to you. And when they're coming back to you, it looks like and I mentioned this a little bit, it might look like they are talking back in might look like, they're super fearful and anxious. They might be having meltdowns or tantrums. But that is their representation of coming back to you. Because it's a sign that they want to connect with you.

Dimple Arora:

Exactly. And you know, I see this a lot in troubled teenage girls. So what happens is when they are at an age where they can sleep over outside of the house, or say they're in university, they may not choose to come home. And when they don't have a secure attachment with the parent at home, and they just they want to be out, they want to stay out as late as they can. And coming home is very uncomfortable for them. And I actually had someone say to me the other day that she literally has to have a nervous breakdown for her mom to notice that she wants comfort and protection from her mom, or she wants that, to talk to her mom about something she said she literally has to start crying and break down. So there's a little bit of disconnect in some relationships. But what you want to do is create that secure base, so that the relationship can continue to flourish, you can read your child's cues, and reading these cues. The circle is so simple. It's so simple. The concept is so simple. But reading these cues can help you in every relationship at any age, because it helps you to learn how to read the cues of anybody in your life. Right?

Shaista Fatehali:

Yeah, and it just it comes back to this concept of secure attachment. Right. And secure attachment is something that is so beneficial. So we'll just go into a little bit about the benefits of secure attachment. So when there is secure attachment, your children are going to feel less anger right towards parents, and they're going to feel a lot more happier. When they're secure attachment, they're also going to be able to solve problems at their own. But when they need help know how to get that help. Lasting friendships, there'll be a lot more lasting friendships and their interpersonal skills will grow so that they can get along better with everyone have better sibling relationships, right. So this goes back to our episode on sibling rivalry as well. Also, feeling better just about themselves, what they can contribute. And they're all also going to feel a lot more protected against feeling hopeless, like you just mentioned with this young girl that you talked about, and also feel less helpless about life. And the reason is because they're going to have an established sense of trust. They know that there are people behind them, who love them. And they know that they are always going to be bigger, wiser and stronger. And that will translate into their own persona, and their own schema of how they relate to others.

Dimple Arora:

Absolutely. And it's going to also give you more satisfaction as a parent, and that confidence in knowing that your child is coming back to you. So some of the people that have been referred to a circle of security program because they're having some parent child conflicts in their life. Sometimes those parents have had their own significant childhood trauma, or emotional neglect, even physical neglect. And so what happens is nothing's been stable for that parent, so it's really hard for them to create a safe haven and a secure base for their own child, but they desperately want something different for their child. And providing a program like the circle of security program helps parents to better understand their child and work through their feelings. And, of course, it's going to be a struggle for that for that parent, because they've never experienced that as a child themselves, right. So the circle of security is so helpful in helping to resolve this parent child conflict, because it helps the child to feel that they are protected and comforted. And it also helps parents to realize what it means to be a secure base, what it means to be like the rock for your child.

Shaista Fatehali:

Mm hmm. Yeah, it's, it's, I love that, right? Being the rock for your child, and just having that secure base. And there are so many different concepts that involve circle of security. One of the concepts that really stands out for me, which is also a strategy you can use is the concept of being with okay, and being with is actually the heart beat, of circle of security. It's a really simple concept, but it is hard to implement, sometimes, let me just get into it a little bit. So the need of every child, the need that every child has, is to want to be recognized, right and wanting their feelings honored. And being with refers to staying with these core feelings, rather than D, denying their importance. So we're gonna get into these four strategies around implementing circle of security. One of the strategies is actually a concept. And it's the concept of being with. And it's actually the heartbeat, of circle of security. It's a really simple concept, but it can be difficult to implement. So I'll just go into what the concept really emphasizes. And it emphasizes needs, the need every child has, and this need reflects their need for their caregivers, to recognize and honor their feelings, by staying with these core feelings, rather than denying their importance. So for example, the feelings of anger, sadness, fear, joy, shame, creep, and curiosity, when they are experienced with an adult, who is staying in and being with these feelings, and not focusing only on behavior, the child will actually feel a lot more secure, and more responsive to their parents. Yes, I

Dimple Arora:

love that strategy. And it just, it helps to help teach parents to look at their child's behavior as connection seeking rather than attention seeking. So when parents go through the circle of security program, a lot of times they'll say things like, we've been told to ignore attention seeking behavior. Yeah, totally. Yeah. And this is not how I've been taught to respond. But what the child is really saying is, I need you right now, when they are acting out. And because of the concept of being with, there can be so many improvements in the parent and child relationship. So think about it. For example, if that secure attachment is not there, and the child doesn't feel secure, you're going to continue to have those bedtime struggles, right, you're going to continue to have those bathtime struggles, because what's happening is the child is not trusting the parent. So until the child feels safe and secure, emotionally and physically, the bedtime routine is going to be a problem. Getting them to school, every morning is going to be a problem. Everything is gonna be a fight. But when the parents are kind and more open and change the way they respond, then what can happen is the parenting will become much more effective.

Shaista Fatehali:

Yeah. And in science, like when you use science speaking, this is CO regulation, right? And CO regulation leads to self regulation. And so what's happening with being with it's the shared management of feelings So it allows emotions to become safe, and will therefore support the ability to manage their own emotions when they're older in the future. So what they're saying, again, you mentioned this is, 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. So that is what they are trying to communicate to you when they're having these meltdowns, it's also really important to know, and this was really helpful for me, that you don't have to be with every single time, right, there are times when they might be having a full on meltdown, and you can't go and comfort them, or you can't go and CO regulate. And that's where the good enough parenting comes from. Because we're not perfect, and we're not going to be there 100% of the time. The important thing is that you are there most of the time, and you are being with most of the time.

Dimple Arora:

And we spoke about this in our last episode on good enough parenting and it's hard, it's really hard. I actually had a few hours with audio this week where it was really hard to be with, and to have that presence, right, especially if you're tired, or you have a lot going on. And there's a lot of moving parts in your day. Right? It's very hard. And this is why I'll go into this next strategy. This is why I suggest we suggest time ins rather than time outs.

Shaista Fatehali:

And I love this strategy.

Dimple Arora:

Yes because, people need to understand that when we isolate a child, when they are distressed, it's actually emotionally harmful to the child. It's emotionally hard for them to become emotionally mature. And it's very stressful for their brain development as well. So a lot of times parents will, parents will use this strategy because they cannot do the B width, right. And it actually prevents them from being physically abusive or emotionally abusive. So what happens is when we were young, we could think, okay, I used to get hit or physically punished. But I'm doing better than my parent because I'm just walking away. Right. But through the circle of security, when you imagine the graphic, that child is they they need you they need you to, to welcome their emotions, to protect them to comfort them. And it's, it's going to impact their brain development and how they maintain friendships and relationships. And they'll start to do it differently. And then they'll be successful as they get older when they need to form secure attachments for other young people in their lives.

Shaista Fatehali:

Mm hmm. You brought up this concept of when we're not able to, and we then refer to strategies like timeout when we're not able to be with we're sometimes we're not able to be with because we hear shark music. And you're probably thinking, What is she talking about? Well, Shark music now we've all watched Jaws I'm sure. And everybody knows that tune. What does that I don't know. Doo doo doo doo doo doo. And then you know what's going to happen? Right Jaws is going to come out. Shark music refers to the uncomfortable feelings we have as parents that are leftover from our experiences from our own past, and realizing how this could influence our current relationship with our child and the way that we think and feel about our parenting. Let me just give you a quick example here. Okay, so let's see. You're taking your child to the park right and it's time to go and your child has a full on meltdown. The park is full of other people in moms that you know, and you have to leave and our shark music comes on. Our shark music tells To us, this child needs to stop right now, I'm the boss, I'm saying that we're going, I'm the authority finger, they shouldn't be saying no and melting down, people are going to look at me weird and think that I'm not a good parent, and think that there's a behavior problem with no child, that will often happen. And what we will end up doing is showing that authority and saying, Don't cry, it's time to go, or just ignore it and just drag our child out. Now, being within this instance, is about saying to your child, I know you're feeling sad, right now. We need to get into the car. So I can blank blank, blank, blank, blank, or I know you're feeling really terrible, right? Now, let's let me give you a really quick hug, it's okay to be upset. We'll return to how this feels soon. But right now we need to just get into the car, you're acknowledging you're being with you're not dismissing. And what prevents us from doing that is our own shark music. This concept really, really has changed a lot of my parenting, because it allows me to really be more in touch with my own triggers and realize, hey, it's not really about me at all. Right now. It's about these triggers that I have based on my past experiences with parenting, and what I need to do right now to be with my child, so that they can feel more protected and comforted.

Dimple Arora:

Oh, that's such a good example. Because when our child is acting out emotionally, it's just a reflection of how secure they're feeling, or how safe they're feeling. And when you threaten them by saying we got to go talk to them, they see that as a threat, right? So it's important to just realize, at any given time, your child is somewhere on the circle. Yeah. And so, for us, it's the key is to realize where they are in the circle. Are they going out to explore right now? Or are they coming back in on the circle towards me, and now they need me to be with them. And so it's important to realize, at all times, we just need to take charge, we need to be the kinder, wiser, bigger person, to give them that secure attachment. And I hope that this episode was able to give you that visual graphic, but you can also look it up. It's just Google circle of security. It's a very simple, simple concept, simple graphic, but it's going to it's going to give you that filler cup, fuller, fuller cup, and give your child a fuller cup. And let them feel good while with you until they're ready to venture out onto the next new adventure.

Shaista Fatehali:

Yeah. And so I'm just going to leave you with 25 words to sum up less than 25 words To sum up, circle of security. Always be bigger, stronger, wiser, unkind. Whenever possible. Follow my child's need, whenever necessary. Take Charge.

Dimple Arora:

I love it. I love it. Thank you for listening, and we will see you in our Facebook group. And we'll talk to you next week. Take care bye. Thank you for joining us on The im mom parenting journey. If you enjoy today's episode, please follow us and head on over to iTunes to leave us a review.