As the week draws to a close I reflect upon my work across my four schools.
I met with parents for a final workshop; a reunion of parents who have completed the workshops in term two; and on Wednesday evening met with parents here at Sacred Heart for our third workshop. I am excited to hear that children are noticing a difference in their parents!
Some comments from our wise little ones:
“I’m glad you went on that course Mummy, you’re much nicer now.”
“Dad didn’t shout once whilst you were away Mum.”
“It’s more peaceful and you’re not all shouty now Mummy.”
Parents say they have been putting into practice the things they have learnt from the Circle of Security and guess what……….as they change their responses to what they see……..they witness change in their children’s responses. The outcome is different.
This week we learnt about “Shark Music” and yes it has got to do with “Jaws”. We watched a movie clip of a beautiful ocean scene on a sunny day. The camera led us down a leafy track to a welcoming beach of warm sand and an inviting sea. The background music was uplifting and quite delightful. We then watched the same movie clip, this time with the theme tune of the film “Jaws” playing in the background.
We discussed how we felt as we watched the first clip and then noticed any changes in our feelings whilst watching the second clip .For the first clip, I heard “Peaceful, happy, relaxed, lovely day, no worries” . Words such as “ anxious, cautious, alert” were shared in relation to the second clip.“ I was worried someone was going to jump out of the bushes.” It was difficult to believe the clip was exactly the same, only the music had been altered in each of the clips.
What has this got to do with us being a safe haven where we can delight in our children and from where our children can go out to explore and return for comfort, protection and receive help to organise their feelings?
Well, sometimes, there are certain needs that our children express which trigger uncomfortable feelings in us. This is when we hear our” Shark Music”. For example, it’s the weekend. You have a little bit of time to “Be With” your child before you move on to the next job. You are curled up on the sofa, reading and watching your child play with her toys by your feet. It is peaceful , so are you and your little one is happy . This is like clip one. Your music is likely to be melodic, gentle and soothing.
However, your little one cannot get her toy to do what she wants it to do. She cries. You don’t respond straightaway thinking she will be all right in a minute. She isn’t. The crying persists and gets louder and louder.
Cue your “ Shark Music”. You are triggered and the scary movie begins. You are distressed and very uncomfortable and have to put a stop to the crying, by whatever means you have.
Clip two has begun. Even though it is still the safe, happy scene from clip one, now your “Shark Music” has begun to play you have lost sight of clip one.
It is important for us to recognise when our “Shark Music “ is triggered.
Some parents struggle with “Being With” their sad child.
“ Don’t be sad, there is nothing to be sad about.”
“ If you are sad you will make me sad.”
“Stop it now otherwise I will give you something to cry about.”
We often ask our children how they feel and then if it is a feeling we think they “shouldn't” feel or we feel guilty because we think we might be the cause of this feeling, we tell them not to feel this way.
Then again, we may struggle with “Being With” our child when she/he is angry, in shame, frightened, curious or even in joy.
We “cue “ and “ miscue” each other throughout the day within our relationships.
For example: You are looking forward to seeing your child as you go to the child care. When you get there, your child cues you with a big smile so you hold out your arms as a cue to come in for a hug.
You are looking forward to seeing your daughter as you go to the childcare. When you get there, your child looks up and says, “I’m having fun.” And returns to the game. Hearing your “Shark Music” you think your child is rejecting you, so you miscue her and turn away.
One of the primary purposes of the Circle of Security is to help our children learn what is safe and what is dangerous.
When we meet our children’s needs for exploration, we allow them to be separate from us. When we welcome them back for comfort and for help in organising their feelings, our child learns to fear danger and that is a good thing.
When our “ Shark Music” limits us and our children learn to fear either separation , closeness or both, our child is unlikely to feel connected to us or secure or confident that we are the grown ups.
The good news is that once we know what “ Shark Music” is and when it is triggered, we can then learn how to soothe and cope with our discomfort and still be able to be the bigger, stronger, wiser and kinder adult.
That’s all for now folks. Listen out for Jaws and remember to turn onto a new channel. It’s never too late to change and we can choose to ask for help .
We may be the grown-ups but we also need to experience other grown-ups “ Being With” us if we are to be able to “ Be With” our children.
SHPSH Social Worker