We talk a lot about attachment and bonding when it comes to babies but what about attunement?
Recently I’ve come across a few babies and toddlers with strong personalities and a parent with an equally strong personality! And guess what? Yes …whooshka … the touch paper has been lit and we’re out of sync and dancing on bare embers.
How did it get to this?
If we look at parenting as a series of tasks to an inanimate object then this probably explains it well. Objects are passive and don’t move, shout back or have opinions! But a lot of babies as we know do! And quite forcefully at times. Got the picture?
You’re trying to change their nappy and they roll over. The once passive toddler suddenly refuses to leave the bath and your 6 month old turns their head to your lovely homemade puree!
When I ask the mother who they think the child resembles in personality they usually say me, meaning themselves!
So how can you get attuned?
- It’s about thinking about things from your baby’s point of view. In fact, how would you like things done? It’s about making them think that they’re in control. Making fun and games out of tasks, so nappy changing isn’t just that. It may have a song or tactile rhyme attached to it.
- It’s also about picking up on non-verbal as well as verbal cues. Ninety-five percent of communication is non-verbal. When a baby wants to be talked to and played with they will give you eye contact, maybe a smile and outstretched arms. When they don’t want to be played with all communication shuts down by averted gaze (no eye contact), looking away from you, repeated blinking and clenched fists and maybe grizzles and cries.
- Baby massage may help you get attuned by getting to know which strokes your baby likes and how he or she likes to be massaged. It works on building on trust, sequences and your relationship. It’s really hard not to look into your baby’s eyes and not know them when you’re doing massage together.
- Food may be baby led weaning not just being fed purees. Once you let them feed themselves they let you feed them purees. It’s a control thing.
- And the bath thing is about making it fun with a game, joining in. The more we think outside the square and make things fun, explore our inner child, the more we are in tune and achieve attunement.
- It’s also looking at their daily rhythms. Are they are morning person or do they warm up later in the day. Most of us are a bit grim before our first cup of coffee of the day, maybe your baby is the same?
- As a parent it’s really important that you’ve had enough sleep and have had your needs met to make this attunement happen. Having breakfast and a shower before you start your day is a great start to any day. Missing out on these essentials can make the best of us feel resentful.
If you’re tired and depressed then no matter how motivated you are it’s not going to happen. Talk to a healthcare professional and seek help to get your relationship back on track.
It’s doing the dance together, getting into your groove and making parenting fun.
The baby stage doesn’t last forever. Try and embrace it and all its challenges and quirks and attunement will come a lot easier. Get your groove on and get those groovy pants moving!
Some more resources below
- A great book to read on this very topic is The Conscious Parent by Dr. Shefali Tsabery. One of my most favourite parenting books.