Attunement is the awareness of the needs and emotions of another, and an understanding of how to react to them appropriately.
Needs and emotions are signaled through facial expressions, non-verbal communication, and environmental clues that provide lots of information about the other person.
Attunement is important because it impacts the ability to have healthy attachment and social relations.
When we talk about attunement, we generally refer to the synchrony between caregiver and child. Children need to feel that their caregivers are attuned to their needs, even when communicated non-verbally, and children need to be attuned to the needs of others in order to develop an understanding of how to respond in different social situations.
Children with a high level of attunement in their relationships with their caregivers tend to be confident in themselves and their inherent worth. The connection they develop with their caregivers helps hone their self-awareness and centeredness. These children tend to experience the world more richly and are better able to adapt and respond to changes in their surroundings.
Attunement can be strengthened. Any activity that allows for both parent and child to relax and enjoy together is a great idea. Activities that allow for the caregiver to delight in the child build feelings of trust, safety, and security.
Here are four activities that you can do at home with your kids to enhance your attunement relationship. They can be done with individual children or in small groups.
- Drawing, coloring, finger painting, and collaging together. Check out these cool projects to get you started: salt, watercolor, and glue art and cotton ball painting.
- Turn-taking, a simple activity appropriate for preschool-aged children. Choose any activity that can be done in turns, such as building a block tower. Each of you gets to place one block on the tower at a time.
- Follow the leader, an oldie-but-goodie. One child takes the lead of the line and everyone behind her imitates her motions, taking care to keep up with each changing motion. A similar game is Indian Chief.
- Dance together! Teach your children the all-time favorite Chicken Dance or the Alley Cat for a great workout and lots of laughs all around.
Remember: The goal of these activities is not to finish, but to enjoy the process—to attune to your child and enjoy just being in each other’s company.
Photo Credit: Supertrooper
What activities do you like to do with your child to strengthen your connection?