Repairing Relationships From Circle of Security, The Attach Place, and Ce

Dear Parents:

When your traumatized child is in a high yellow (from Zones of Regulation) moment, a much needed Time In is called for.  Remember, when you child is in the Red Zone, it is too late for some of the following Time In guidelines.From the Zones of Regulation

While it is not written below, sometimes you do have to hold your child who shot zero-to-sixty into the Red Zone and is way out of control.  That is a fact, despite no one wanting to talk (let alone write) about having to physically hold children sometimes for their emotional and physical safety.  There, I talked about it.

I ran across this resource below in a file on my computer the other day and thought I wrote it. That’s just how much great minds think alike (patting myself on the back for a little minute.) This is actually from The Circle of Security.  Frankly, when I thought I wrote it, I mused it could use a few edits for traumatized kids, then I realized I didn’t write it.

So, some of the advice under the I’m Calm (enough) and My Child is Upset heading will not work at all for our kids.  For example, all the talking suggested, skip that.  You will be glad you did.  

In order to get yourself and your child back to green (Zones), take some of these steps and pay close attention to the details.  The devil is in them, you know.


Repairing Relationships with a Time-In

(This is a guideline. It is, of course, harder than this page makes it sound.)

Bottom line: It’s the relationship (and only the relationship) that will build my child’s capacity to organize her/his feelings.

My child’s problem may look like something that is being done on purpose. But at its root, it’s an issue of needing to reconnect and learning to handle difficult feelings in a safe and secure way. By taking an “I can/we can” perspective (“Together, we’re going to figure out what you need”) my child will realize that I’m in charge as someone who is bigger, stronger, wiser, and kind. This will reassure her/him, feelings will settle and organize, and the relationship will have been repaired.


I’m Upset and My Child is Upset

When necessary, I start with a “Time-Out”* (for me, for my child, or for both of us) until:

· I know that I am bigger, stronger, wiser, and kind, and

· I remind myself that no matter how I feel, my child needs me.


I’m Calm (enough) and My Child is Upset

We can build a safe “repair routine” together (remember: the first 1,000 times are the hardest!).

· I take charge so my child is not too out of control.

· We can change location. Go to a neutral place that is our “Time-in” spot, where we sit together and let feelings begin to change.

· I maintain a calm tone of voice (firm, reassuring, and kind).

· We can do something different (for several minutes): read, or look out the window, or attend to a chore together.

· I help my child bring words to her/his feelings. (“It looks like this is hard for you.” “Are you mad/sad/afraid?” )

· I talk about my feelings about what just happened. (“When you did that, I felt…”)

· I stay with my child until s/he is calm enough. (It may take a while for a child to calm down from overwhelming and unorganized feelings. Rule of thumb: Stay in charge and stay sympathetic.)


I’m Calm (enough) and My Child is Calm (enough)

I use the following to support our repair and to make repair easier in the future.

· I help my child use words for the needs and feelings that s/he is struggling with by listening and talking together. (Remember KISS—Keep It Short And Sweet)

· I help my child take responsibility for her/his part and I can take responsibility for my part. (Rule of thumb: No blaming allowed.)

· We talk about new ways of dealing with the problem in the future. (Even for very young children, talking out loud about new options will establish a pattern and a feeling that can be repeated through the years.) © Cassidy, Cooper, Hoffman, & Powell – 2000

Attachment Help

The Attach Place
Center for Strengthening Relationships

Love matters.  Yes, it does!


Join our monthly Adoptive/Foster Parent Support Group on May 10th, 2017! Open to all parents/caregivers at no cost. Support Group is every 2nd Wednesday of every month from 6pm to 8pm at 3336 Bradshaw Road, Ste 175, Sacramento, CA 95827. Free child care provided.

Get your specially discounted copy of Drowning With My Hair On Fire: Insanity Relief For Adoptive Parents by Ce Eshelman, LMFT.  Daily inspirational reading for those who sometimes find it hard to keep hope alive. There is hope for healing.

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