What is Attunement?
Updated: Aug 11, 2020
Attunement is the intentional practice of "looking and listening" to children. It is about tuning in to their unique perspective and wondering:
"What could they be thinking, feeling, seeing, or experiencing in this particular moment?"
The goal of attunement is to establish an unbroken connection. Connection filled with trust, safety, and a willingness to help a child regulate and voice any concerns. Attunement supports attachment.
As we continue to engage in the work of understanding ourselves, we are really engaged in love.
Fred Rogers has a song that I use to teach educators and caregivers about attunement:
Look and Listen. The premise being, we must look past the behaviors and listen with our hearts. All behavior has a psychological component behind it; thus, it occurs to communicate if we are willing to look closer and remain curious.
Here are the lyrics:
If you will look carefully, Listen carefully, You will find a lot of things carefully. Look...and listen.
It's good to Look carefully. Listen carefully. That's the way you learn a lot of things carefully. Look...look and listen.
Some things you see are confusing. Some things you hear are strange. But if you ask someone to explain one or two, You'll begin to notice a change in you.
If you will Look carefully. Listen carefully. That's a way to keep on growing carefully. Look, look, look, and listen.
Notice that there is also the component of asking-the dialogue, not the lecture. It is about giving a child "voice" and allowing them to have their feelings, ideas, and realities, regardless if it is logical to you. It is real for them. We must never dismiss a fear, question, or emotion, as we are attuning to their experience, and acting as a safe place and guide.
Now, let's watch Fred do what he does best. Look at the camera and encourage us.
Attunement includes: affirming body language, eye contact, full attention (turn off your phones, people), touch, and empathy (questions and statements). But most of all, you intend to connect in love. If your child was upset and approached Mister Rogers, how would he react? We need to trust that we can do what is best for our children. If you feel stuck, ask yourself what would have helped you as a child. Then your heart will be in the right place. Thank you for all you do for caring for the children in your life and the child who is still within you.
Where could you choose to look and listen carefully today?