Circle of Security Parenting

  1. Overview
  2. Related Documents:
    a.  Statewide Perspective
    b.  Child Thriving in Life (English, Spanish)
    c.  The Circle (English, Spanish, Adolescent)
    d.  CT Trainings, Community Initiatives, and Programs for Building Better Quality Relationships
    e.  A New Lens
    f.   Theory of Community Change
    g.  Playspaces – chapter by Robyn Dolby about attachment-based strategies for handling transitions in early childhood settings
    h.  The Circle of Security: Roadmap to building supportive relationships; Robyn Dolby
  3. Videos
  4. Links

  5. Articles and Outcome Data

  6. Survey Results:

  7. Contact:  Charlie Slaughter, MPH;; 860-550-6682



Connecticut has been building capacity in CT cities and towns to offer Circle of Security Parenting since 2010. In 2016, DCF began an effort to train nearly 900 people in Circle of Security Parenting (COS P) in order to build statewide capacity to offer COS P. Nearly 1,700 providers from a large range of disciplines and settings in CT have been trained to offer COS P. We’re finding COS P is a valuable tool that can be added to a wide variety of existing programs. The document, State Perspective, in the related Documents section, gives more information on what has been happening in CT with COS P and a focus on secure attachment.


Circle of Security Parenting (COS P) is a new, attachment-based intervention that provides new relationship tools to parents, teachers, caregivers, and other community adults. The new relationship tools allow them to create a better quality of relationship with infants, children, students, and other adults that is more supportive of secure attachment. What we’re realizing is that various capacities infants, children, students, and adults need to thrive in life, such as curiosity, self-regulation, joy of learning, impulse control, and trust, are built within relationships and best built in a quality of relationship that also builds and supports secure attachment. The document, Child Thriving in Life, that is found in the Related Documents section is one of the handouts we use about this perspective. A recent RCT with COS P found an increase in inhibitory control in the five-year-old children in Baltimore whose mothers received COS P.


One tool they receive is the capacity to reflect. COS P builds parents, teachers, and caregivers’ reflective capacity in several ways. It helps them to reflect about a child’s behavior rather than react to it and helps them figure out what a child is communicating they need through their behavior. It also builds capacity to reflect on their reaction to a child’s behavior and to reflect on the parenting they received in their own childhoods. The document, The Circle, found in the Documents Section, is one of the tools that helps parents, teachers, and caregivers reflect on the behaviors of infants, children, and students rather than react to the behavior. The Circle helps them look beneath the behavior to identify the need their behavior is communicating they have.


We initially viewed COS P as an intervention to be brought to parents of young children. However, there has been a keen desire from an ever-widening range of providers, disciplines, and settings to integrate COS P into their work. We have been delighted to see COS P being brought to parents of older children and to parents of adolescents. We’ve also been delighted to see COS P being brought to family childcare providers, preschool teachers, and teachers from a variety of school settings. Additionally, some agencies have integrated COS P into their agencies so all staff have a working model of attachment and a shared language that allows attachment-based conversations and insights about families being served. A number of state-funded programs at DCF have integrated COS P into their work with families. We are also starting to see COS P be integrated into pediatric practices as a strategy to address the parenting challenges they routinely encounter. Churches and synagogues have been integrating COS P as a strategy to equip more parents with these new relationship tools. EMERGE CT in New Haven works with formerly incarcerated persons to make a successful return to their families as responsible members, and to their communities as law-abiding, contributing citizens. They added COS P to help parents become better parents, and then learned that the relationship tools received from COS P also helped them be successful at work. EMERGE CT now has all of the adults, parents and nonparents, receive COS P.


This effort with COS P has also led to a number of innovations in CT.  For example, Barbara Stern, has developed a one-day training, A New Lens, for teachers that helps them gain an attachment perspective of students’ classroom behavior, gain reflective capacity, and learn new attachment-informed strategies. Over 1000 teachers have received her training. One of the fascinating outcomes is nearly 25% of the teachers who take Barbara’s training request to go through a COS P group so they can gain more relationship tools. A flyer about her training is in the Related Documents section. See the document, CT Trainings, Community Initiatives, and Programs for Building Better Quality Relationships, in the Related Documents sections for a list.


We are now seeing the possibility of creating community-wide efforts to help many more parents, teachers, caregivers, and other community adults gain these new relationship tools. This starts to create the potential for a child to receive better quality relationships at home, at childcare, at school, at church, and at other settings in a community. In turn, we believe this further strengthens the various capacities needed to thrive in life that are built in relationships. New Haven, Middletown, Manchester, and Waterbury are leaders in CT in terms of creating these community-wide efforts. A related document, Theory of Community Change, can be found in the Related Documents section.


Robyn Dolby is a psychologist in Australia who has been doing some of the best work internationally about applying COS concepts and an attachment perspective to early childhood settings. The Playspaces document focuses on using attachment-based strategies for handling transitions. A couple of document by her are in the related Documents section.


A number of videos are available that explain some of the COS P concepts and also allow you to hear what parents and teachers are saying about COS P. Just go to the e Videos section.


Links to Circle of Security International and to the Secure Start Network in New Haven, CT are included. The Secure Start Network is funded and led by the United Way of Greater New Haven. It is an effort to build capacity to offer COS P in the greater New Haven area, support the competency of COS P facilitators, and bring an attachment perspective into various settings.





The articles section list various research articles about Circle of Security Parenting