Evidence That It Works
A 2014 manual explores concepts used in the Circle of Security intervention, a program for cultivating secure attachments between parents and children. It provides parents a roadmap to observe, identify, reflect on, and respond to their children’s core needs, including a secure base from which to explore the world and a safe haven to return to for comfort. The authors offer guidance on how to provide comfort to children by helping them process and understand their own emotions.
In a study, child-caregiver pairs participated in the Circle of Security intervention. The results showed that the intervention was effective in changing children’s attachment style from non-secure to secure attachments.
A case study found that the Circle of Security intervention previously used with caregiver-child pairs up to preschool age can also be effective with older children.
Why Does It Matter?
Securely attached children tend to have higher self-esteem, show better self-control, and perform better in school. Children who experience more loving relationships with their parents therefore tend to be more compassionate and helpful toward others later in life.
Beyond interpersonal relationships, love has lasting benefits for our health and growth—while people who grow up without loving bonds may experience immune system dysfunction and chronic illness.
Children develop secure attachments when they benefit from a caregiver’s enduring love–so much that they “have confidence in the possibility of goodness.” In other words, because they have received consistent care, warmth, and sensitivity in the past, they believe that others will respond to their vulnerability with compassion in the future.
In addition, parents who are attuned to their children model caring behavior that their children can embrace and imitate. When parents are responsive to their children’s emotions, children learn to become more aware of their own feelings.
The ability to be agile with their emotions allows children to better support others who are in distress because they don’t become overwhelmed by other people’s pain. With a greater understanding of emotions, securely attached children can empathize more skillfully and, in turn, show care, love, and compassion to others.