The Dance of Attunement
There isn't any formula or method. You learn to love by loving - Aldous Huxley
Chapter 6 takes a look at attachment theory and the essential elements of “good enough parenting” addressing all the mommy guilt and setting the balance. The goal of parenting is to raise children who will become independent adults—capable of love and work. In the meantime, I’d like to suggest that it is much more important to have the most resilient kid on the block than to have the happiest baby on the block. And attunement is the key to both.
Attunement is a very broad concept that refers to how responsive you and your baby are to one another’s cues. This subtle quality of emotional attunement, now sometimes called synchrony, has biological aspects that begin in utero when mother and baby’s biorhythms accommodate to one another. Synchrony is defined as “an ongoing match in the mother’s and infant’s direction of involvement in the interaction” and is likened to a dance.
Sophisticated technology now exists that permits developmental neuroscientists to measure the tiniest time lags in the exchange of social and emotional cues, cues involving eye contact, smiling, and even heartbeat. Researchers first videotape the parent-child interactions, and then observe these interactions in a slow motion playback that is broken down into 3-second segments—hence the term micro level synchrony. They then code the details of the interaction with great precision. Using these micro-synchrony measures, researchers are able to determine who is “driving” the interaction—leading the dance as it were, parent or baby. In highly synchronous pairs, baby initiates many of these interactions by 3 months, indicating that the caregiver is responsive to micro level shifts in the baby’s emotions. These highly sophisticated measures of micro level synchrony are disrupted when a parent is depressed.