There are two messages every child deserves to hear:
I am here when you need me. You are worth it.
It can be hard for parents to consistently and patiently offer these messages, especially if they are struggling. Many parenting programs offer a set of ideas to adjust the child’s behavior but they may not take the larger picture into consideration. The Circle of Security Program, offered through the Guelph CHC and the Early Years Centre is different. Karen, a Guelph CHC Parent Outreach Worker and one of the program facilitators says “It’s not a one-size fits all model of behaviour modification for children, but a model that respectfully acknowledges each individuals needs, feelings, strengths and struggles.“
Instead of trying to change the child’s behaviour, this program gives the parent a relationship based approach and helps parents to develop the ability to shift their focus and see what they are doing and not yet doing to meet their child’s needs.
The 8-week program uses a prerecorded DVD showing the concepts with real parent reflections, real situations. Susan, an Early Childhood Educator and our second program facilitator explains the program this way, “Each week we get deeper into self reflection, talk about our past experiences and how these past experiences might shape our parenting today. We do not try to tear down defences that have been used for years. Instead we help parents come to understand and recognize their defences and help them make different choices in their everyday parenting situations.”
The evidence based program has been a huge success with the participants who have completed the program. Based on feedback provided at the end of the program, 100% of the participants would recommend it to others, 100% said they developed new parenting abilities and 89% stated that after completing the program their stress level from parenting was reduced.
The program, which runs twice a year, is open to anyone interested in strengthening their relationships with their children and improving their parenting skills.
“We normalize the fact that we all have struggles as parents. There is no such a thing as perfect parent. It is never too late, because our children give us lots of chances to get it right. Security is about learning from our mistakes rather than always getting it right” says Susan.
Karen says the program provides a great opportunity to create community. “It’s very powerful to see how participants have benefited from learning with and supporting one another, sharing their stories and challenges and problem solving together. There’s a strong selfreflective component that enables parents to empathize with each other and to feel supported through our common struggles as parents”.
The feedback from program participants has been excellent. When asked if the program affected the parent’s relationship with their child, one participant wrote “Such a difference! I am calmer, my children are calmer, even my spouse is calmer. We now enjoy each other so much more. I loved this class. It has helped me so much and I am so thankful it is offered. Please continue to offer this class. I can’t say enough good things. ”