Author: Jennifer S. Kennett

In my post on attachment parenting with teens, I talked a bit about the value of listening, and it got me thinking about the kinds of communication we use, particularly with our children. I came up with three kinds of communication—three ways in which we engage.

  1. To share or impart information
  2. To provide instruction, direction, or correction.
  3. To connect or attune.

I think that most of us are familiar with types one and two. Especially in the early years (0-5), a huge part of the parenting role is to instruct, direct and correct. We get used to being a ‘manager parent’. And yet, if all we do is manage and direct, we are missing a fundamental aspect of developing healthy attachment.

So what do I mean by attunement communication? The word ‘attune’ means ‘to bring into a harmonious or responsive relationship’.

To effectively attune with your child requires you to have the right attitude – the attitude of

“my child is a wondrous, autonomous being whom I want to connect with for the sole purpose of understanding and valuing in this moment.”

Active listening is the foundation of being good at attunement.

  • Active listening means being fully present.
  • Making eye contact, putting away distractions.
  • It means listening without interruption.
  • It means noticing your child’s non-verbal cues.
  • It means engaging your empathy – trying to imagine how your child felt about the experience they are describing.
  • It means responding back with messages of “I have heard you” through non-verbal cues, paraphrasing, and reflecting.
  • It means offering acceptance rather than judgment, presence rather than solutions.
  • It means slowing down.

I encourage you to ask yourself “How many times in the past week have I tried to attune to my child?

Share your comments below about what happens when you attune with your child or teen.