Raising a Secure Child | Kent Hoffman

Summary of: Raising a Secure Child: How Circle of Security Parenting Can Help You Nurture Your Child’s Attachment, Emotional Resilience, and Freedom to Explore
By: Kent Hoffman


The book Raising a Secure Child, by Kent Hoffman, delves into the crucial concept of secure attachment in a child’s life. Building on attachment theory, the book highlights the importance of having at least one individual a child can rely on for emotional reassurance, encouragement, and comfort. The authors introduce the Circle of Security as a framework for parents and caregivers to provide a balance between meeting the child’s needs for both nurturing and autonomy. The introduction also underscores the connection between secure attachment and children’s future relationships, emotional resilience, and health.

The Power of Secure Attachment

A child’s secure attachment with a primary caregiver is crucial to their physical and emotional well-being, according to attachment theory. Psychologists have developed this theory to recognize that babies have an innate biological need for emotional comfort. Studies have shown that a secure attachment helps the child’s body produce stress-related hormones that can slow down and become less effective over time when unmet. Moreover, the immune system may be affected, resulting in a lowering of defenses against viruses and diseases, along with their memory and cognition. With stable, secure attachment, children develop greater abilities to empathize and form secure relationships as adults. And, studies worldwide have reported that socially isolated people are two times more likely to meet a premature death than those who are socially integrated.

Circle of Security

The Circle of Security is a framework designed to help parents build secure attachment with their children by balancing their needs for comfort and independence. It is represented by a clock face, with the secure base at the nine o’clock position. As children explore, parents must watch over them and offer help to help them feel safe. Once finished exploring, children need protection, comfort, and appreciation from their parents before further exploration. The process can happen multiple times a day, and the Circle of Security can be applied to various situations, such as a child’s first day at preschool.

Meeting the Needs of Your Child

Parenting involves meeting the needs of your child in various ways. Children require attention and support, especially during the times when they are exploring their environment and returning to their safe haven. As a caregiver, you can meet their exploration needs by watching, supporting their independence, delighting in their activities, and offering help when necessary. For their safe haven needs, children require protection, comfort, feeling delighted in, and organization of feelings. By attending to these needs, you can teach your child to understand emotions and promote their overall well-being.

Repairing Ruptures in Parent-Child Relationships

As a parent, it’s important to acknowledge that no one is perfect. Missing a chance to respond to your child’s needs is called “rupturing the circle.” However, fixing a rupture can be more beneficial than avoiding it. Acknowledge the unmet need, apologize, and do something fun together to heal the bond. It’s important to avoid ignoring ruptures and suppressive parenting styles that negate natural emotions in children. Being an imperfect parent allows for teaching resilience in your child.

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