I have to begin this post by apologizing for my long absence. March was a busy month and with a whole week in a magnificent training, followed by a week of well-deserved vacation, I can say that I have been “filling my cup” of great theory, reflection, and relaxation during these weeks.
The main reason I want to write about “filling the cup” is because of that great training I attended. It was one of those trainings were you not only get all the theory and practice, but you also spend a great deal of time reflecting on your own life and journey. We owe that to our wonderful trainer, that was able to create such a wonderful environment throughout the whole week. I am not one that likes to share my personal life in a professional setting, but I can appreciate a training that makes you reflect… that gives you something to bring home and think about. Part of being in the Psychology field is always reflecting about your own feelings and experiences. Not in an obsessive-compulsive way, but in a way where you can try to make peace with your own experiences and try to better yourself throughout that journey. I can’t say this is something exclusive to my field. Anyone that is willing to this, is more than able to. However, with the constant exposure that I have to emotional content, I need to do it. Now, before you start thinking that all psychologists are wacky, the reason I say this, is not because I have a past full of trauma and despair, but because I truly believe that to be a good therapist, you need to be able to connect with your own feelings and emotions, your past, your relationships, etc. So then, you can connect with your client’s emotions. It’s easier to truly empathize with your clients, when you yourself have reflected about some of these same emotions. Not that you have lived or experienced the same things, but that you have reflected upon these issues. At least, that is my opinion.
But, I am getting completely off track here. The purpose of this post was to share just the basic knowledge I got from the Circle of Security – Parenting training. I think the most beautiful thing about this training was to show how such a simple concept can summarize such important topics in such an effective way. There was so much wonderful information, but I would like to share with you just the basic concepts to all of you with tiny (or not so tiny) feet out there.
Photo by: Gretchen Minx
Core concept: you are the hands that “hold your child”. You are their secure base and safe haven. As a parent, you are the hands that let them go when they want to explore the world, but you are also the hands that hold them, when they need to come back to you and “fill their cup” with security, love, and feeling of being safe. Trying to understand that our children need time to “explore the world” on their own is as important as being their when they need to come back to you.
But, when they are out exploring it doesn’t mean that they don’t need you at all. They need you to support their exploration. Sometimes by helping them with a task that is more difficult, sometimes by enjoying what they are doing with them, and sometimes by simply delighting in them and showing them how you love to watch them play, or explore, or whatever it is that they might be doing.
On the other hand, remembering that even when they seem to be having fun out in their exploration they can still need you, even if for momentary comfort. Sometimes, they will need you to protect them, sometimes to comfort them, sometimes to help them organize their feelings, and sometimes to just delight in them and show them how much they are loved and cherished.
This is the main concept. Now, as simple as it might seem, sometimes it is really hard to be there and do this all the time. And, you can’t do it all the time. But, you can do it most of the time, or at least be aware of when you were not able to do so and repairing it the next time. Being there for your child and helping them explore their environment, knowing that you are right there for them, is one of the most important gifts you can give your child. You are helping them feel confident and that they can do things on their own, but they can also count on support, help, and comfort when they need it.
I would say (or at least it might be my personal bias) that helping your child organize their feelings, might be the most difficult task. Why? For several reasons. Either we were not brought up in an environment where talking about feelings was somethings comfortable or because we just wish our children did not know what sadness or anger was… But letting your child feel different feelings is important. More important, is to help them process those feelings. Don’t try to sweep them under the rug like they are not happening. It makes them feel like it’s not ok to have that feeling. Don’t be angry because they are expressing certain emotions. It makes them feel that they can’t have that feeling or worst, that they can’t share it with you. Let them talk about what they are feeling. When they are little, label those feelings for them. Help them reach a solution that will make them feel better. Your child will grow up knowing a range of different emotions (which like it or not, we all have and experience), knowing that he/she can talk about his/her emotions with someone who care s about them, and knowing how to find solutions do deal with difficult emotions. This is an essential skill to have as an adult.
Finally, I would also like to add another key concept from this training.
Always be bigger, stronger, wiser, and kind.
Whenever possible, follow your child’s need.
Whenever necessary take charge.
So, yes, it is important to be there to watch them explore and “fill their cups” when they need it. And that involves a lot of paying attention to their needs and emotions. But, sometimes, you need to be the adult and set the rules. Kids needs structure. Kids crave structure and rules. Otherwise, they feel disorganized and don’t know what they can and can not do. So, remember, you are bigger and stronger. But don’t be just bigger and stronger, because that adds up to being mean. Don’t be just kind, because that adds up to being portrayed as weak. Be the balance. Be kind and wise, will showing your kids the rules and expectations. Always make them feel like they are loved. Remember, it was what they did that you did not like, not him/her. Make sure they know that.
Always remember, you are the hands that hold your child. You are the hands that hold their circle. You are the hands that hold their world together. It is a great responsibility. Someone once said, with great power, comes great responsibility. I would add, with great responsibility, great things can happen.
In this wonderful but at times daunting task of raising another human being, sometimes we get scared, sometimes we get tired, sometimes we get lost. Every parent always does their best, with the best they know, to raise their child the best they can. Like I mentioned in “Good Enough“, we can not get so stressed and stuck on trying to be the perfect parent at all times. Good enough, sometimes is just perfect. However, when you are feeling lost, think about the circle. All your child needs is to know that your hands are there to hold them and let them go when needed. Good enough is being those hands. Good enough is just perfect.