If you are really going to co-operate with Nature’s plan for the development of intelligence, you take your signals from the child. Not from some book, not from some expert, …..you take your signals from the child.
(Joseph Chilton Pearce cited in Brownlee, P. 2007)
Taking our signals from our children: The importance of attunement. There has been a lot of research done recently on the importance of having a close and respectful attachment with your baby and young child so that they develop in to more independent, emotionally stable, loving human beings. Pennie Brownlee in ‘Dance with me in the heart: the adult’s guide to great infant-parent relationships’ writes that when you are partnering in a respectful way with your young child, you listen to them and watch them closely, so you can discover what they are experiencing and what they really need. Only then can you support them with the deep understanding that creates respectful relationships.If you are reading this, you are probably already aware of the importance of attunement or being ‘in tune’ with your young child, so that they feel understood and cared for.
As our child grows older relationships often become less close. You might have noticed that as we get busier, and as our children become older and more independent, we often forget to create the moments that help develop and nurture a close, harmonious and respectful relationship with them, and we can grow apart. The moments when we stop to listen closely to them and do things with them can become fewer and fewer. The television and computers are always on, visitors arrive, we are more tired, our children have busy after school schedules. All the diversions of our busy and modern lives often severely limit those moments of intimacy with our children when we stop, play, relax, have a laugh, and most of all, listen to our children.
As our children get older, the busy schedules and life-styles of the whole family get in the way of spending time just being with our children until they can become almost strangers, and become people we can no longer easily support, or even connect with and enjoy anymore. As our children become older, it is even more important we continue to have special regular time with them we both enjoy, so we stay ‘in tune’ with each other and so weather any future storms together rather than miserably apart. Taking time out of your busy life to attune yourself with your child means that at any future point when they are feeling alone and lonely, they will always know in their hearts how deeply we care for and enjoy them, and that they can always come to us for help and comfort. Please create the time to continue building and developing your relationship with your child into adulthood. Here are some ideas I’ve found work for developing the mutual pleasures and benefits of nurturing a close relationship with your children.
- Regular special one-on-one dates. Busy entrepreneurial time-management guru Steven Covey had regular dates with all of his nine children. I guess if that is what it takes – do that. In the past when I’ve been especially frantically busy, I’ve diaried in special weekly times with my children. That is how I taught one to ride a bike for instance.
- Seize moments that Pennie Brownlie calls ‘care moments’ when you are doing something with or for your child. She suggests you give those moments your full attention. Bed times are good moments to just sit quietly with your child and listen to them.
- Read books with them long after they can read for themselves. It allows them to open up and discuss ideas and opinions they have with you, and perhaps share problems and triumphs as well. I have more ideas here about why and how you read books to your child.
- Say less – listen more to deeply understand what they are experiencing. This is very, very hard to do when you have strong opinions about what they should be doing, thinking, feeling. Then especially – you need to listen. Think to yourself, “Perhaps I don’t really understand what is happening for my child yet.
Especially as children grow older, family life can become one chore after another, and the little oases of just being together often become fewer and fewer. These moments to attune yourself with your child again can be wonderful opportunities for you to relax and unstress as well. When you are partnering respectfully with your child, you often walk away from relaxed and happy and ready for the next chore after a close and loving moment with your child. To your surprise you might find you get more out of that moment from your child than you felt you gave. Check out this post for more tips to become closer with your child. Get in contact with me whenever you like. I enjoy responding to your comments and questions.