Talking with parents of children with learning disabilities: Parents’ ideas about the Circle of Security parenting programme

Sarah Muddle, Jennifer McElwee, Regine Vincent, Nicola Birdsey, Lara Best

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The promotion of secure attachment relationships in childhood leads to better outcomes in later life. The Circle of Security Parenting Programme (COS-P) provides a clear framework for reflecting on attachment relationships. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with parents of children with learning disabilities who attended a COS-P programme to find out about their experiences of the course and how applicable it was to them. The data were analysed using thematic analysis. Four key themes were identified: these related to (1) COS-P concepts are relevant to all children but (2) parenting a child with a learning disability is different and (3) COS-P can create a focus on their child as different, which can be painful, and (4) changes recommended to make COS-P suitable for parents of children with learning disabilities. This paper outlines the benefits and challenges of COS-P in sharing concepts related to attachment, whilst highlighting differences for parents of children and young people with learning disabilities, which can be painful.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalBritish Journal Of Learning Disabilities
Issue number2
Early online date3 Feb 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 3 Feb 2021


  • Children
  • Learning disabilities
  • Parents
  • Circle of Security
  • Parenting intervention

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