Are you ready to learn a fancy word today? Attunement. Getting in tune with your child. Getting in sync with your child.

(Not listening to N’Sync with your child though a good parent would absolutely teach their kids the dance to Bye Bye Bye. If this is weird to you, maybe don’t stop by the Page household on a weekend evening…dance party central!)

Webster’s Dictionary defines attune as: to bring into harmony, to make aware or responsive

Whittingham & Coyne say, “Attunement occurs when the parent and child are sharing an experience, when they are emotionally in sync.” (As found in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy: The Clinician’s Guide for Supporting Parents.)

Well, that sounds nice doesn’t it?

Being on the same page? Sharing an experience? Being emotionally in sync?

Aaaaahhhhhh, lovely.  But is that the reality of busy everyday life?

How can we get more of this attunement, connection, synchronization in our parent-child relationships? Let’s look at 3 ways.

#1 Mirror your child’s state to them.

This is empathy on steroids. Try your very best to slow down when your child is having big feelings. Attempt to view the situation from their unique perspective. Then mirror that back to them with your facial expressions, your body language, and the words you say.

This is hard. Especially if your child has BIG reactions or outward facing problem behaviors.

It may be too hard for you to suddenly change your behavior to slowing down and attempting to see their world from their perspective in the heat of the moment. So try doing it later.

Remember what happened. See if you can pause this mental play back and attempt to see things through your child’s eyes. What might they be seeing? What might they be feeling?

The more you can practice this perspective-taking when the stakes are low, the easier it will be to start trying when things get heated or more emotional.

#2 Share experiences that are memorable.

Attunement comes from shared experiences where you and your child have the same emotional state.

That means you are both feeling the same things.

How can we arrange for this? Make time and effort to do things that make you both smile more often.

We share alllll our experiences with our kids- all the day-to-day mundane tasks. Are you in the same emotional state as your child through these daily to-do’s? Probably not.

So what kinds of things do you both like to do? Go outside? Read a book to your child? Play a board game? Cook? Go for a bike ride or walk? Build Legos together?

Whatever can make you both smile- plan for that. Make time for it. Then do it.

Just a few minutes at a time can make a huge difference in your attunement, in your connection to your child. Go for quality, not quantity here. Find a few minutes each day for high quality attention and spending time doing a simple thing that you can both enjoy.

#3 Get in sync with your own emotions.

If you can’t regulate your own emotions, how are you going to mirror back to your child? How are you going to practice empathy with your child if you can’t manage your own self first?

Whittingham & Coyne point out, “Mothers more attuned to their own emotions were also more attuned to their children, suggesting a greater capacity for self-awareness and acceptance is related to a greater capacity for other awareness  and acceptance.”

Figure out what your body needs for self-regulation. How? Give yourself some choices of things that are calm or active. What helps you clear your head or calm down a racing heart? What helps when your shoulders are up by your ears or your tongue is always on the roof of your mouth? What helps you to relax or get energized? (Notice how these are all physical cues our bodies give us?)

What does your body need? Try some different choices and see what gives you the best reaction. Do that. Do it regularly. Model it out loud. “I am feeling _____. My body needs ____.”

Start with meeting your self-regulation needs, then move toward co-regulation, attunement, and getting in sync with your child.

Every day in small ways, we can find ways to connect with our kids, get in sync, and model our own emotional regulation so to meet their emotional needs.

Baby steps. A little here and there can make a big difference!

PS: I tried really hard to find a way to incorporate some N’Sync lyrics into this post. I’m coming up empty. Can you think of a way to incorporate an N’Sync song into this discussion of getting attuned with your child? Tell me in the comments! I need the creative help!

If you’re ready to create more moments of connection with your kids but first need to find a bit more attunement with yourself, try shaking off those feelings of burnout by checking out my FREE Banish Mommy Burnout Workshop.
This free, on-demand workshop gives you instant access to videos and resources to help you get past the burnout and move on to more connection with yourself and your child.
 Check it out and sign up by clicking here!