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By definition, attunement means “a feeling of being ‘at one’ with another being.” (source)
Why would attunement be an important aspect of parenting? Don’t you want your child to have a strong sense of self, not a feeling of being “at one” with you?
Actually, “Young children experience their world as an environment of relationships, and these relationships affect virtually all aspects of their development. We have long known that interactions with parents, caregivers, and other adults are important in a child’s life, but new evidence shows that these relationships actually shape brain circuits and lay the foundation for later developmental outcomes, from academic performance to mental health and interpersonal skills.” (source)
Attuning to your child is simply a form of responsive parenting. It’s also a crucial part of your baby’s mental, emotional, and psychological development.
As you speak to your baby in a calm, soothing voice and with kind, gentle words your baby learns they are loved and safe. If you respond immediately to baby’s cries she learns to trust she will be taken care of when she asks for help. When you smile at her and play with her she learns play is good, and the world is a fun place to explore.
How do you attune to your little one?
According to Dr. Claire Vallotton of Michigan State University, attunement is a simple, three-step process:
“Responsive care of young children involves attending to, accurately perceiving, and appropriately responding to children’s cues.” (source)
It’s totally up to you what the appropriate response should be. As an infant, it can be simple. You hear baby cry, you accurately perceive it’s a hungry cry, and so you respond by feeding her. As they get older, though, you won’t always get it “right” – and that’s okay!
You can’t be attuned to your child 24/7. We all have our “good” days and “bad” days, including children, and even adults find it difficult to understand each other all of the time. As long as you’re giving baby enough quality time to develop a strong bond, all is well.
Susan Stern, LCW, founder of The Social Skills Place, Inc., has a short post entitled “The Importance of Attunement” with several great tips on how to attune more effectively to your child. You should check it out!
Attuning takes time, effort, and energy like any meaningful, interpersonal relationship. A good bond with your child, though, and a happy, self-confident, emotionally intelligent adult as a result is more than worth it.
Wouldn’t you agree?
Featured image source: www.acupuncturenutrition.com