The Art of Tuning In

The term „tuning in” is more and more often presented in the context of interpersonal relations, especially relations with children. Tuning in signifies synchronizing one’s emotional status with the emotions of the child. It is combined with the capability of reading non-verbal signals sent by the child and reacting to them harmoniously.

I am playing with my friends’ four years old son when suddenly his favorite ceramic elephant that his mom brought from her travels abroad falls of the shelf. Hitting the floor, it shatters into several dozen pieces. I turn to the boy and I can see his face twisting in pain and sorrow. Adam throws himself onto the floor screaming and crying. I brush the broken pieces aside and lie down next to him. I can feel his body wreathe and tremble, I can sense a mix of vexation and despair. I place my hand on his back and, under my fingers, I feel him tremble. I try to tune in to his breathing. After a while our breathing becomes even and calm. Adam lifts his head, looking at me with sadness, but in a way he seems to have come to terms with what has happened. He hugs my hand and says, as if to himself: „I told him ‚goodnight’ every day before going to sleep!” I am sad, but also content, because I feel our closeness. I am glad I can be here and share his pain.

Tuning in with the child means forming an emotional connection with him or her, sharing what he or she is experiencing. Feeling that another person is there for them and shares the same world, gives the child the strength and faith.

Tuning in with a fourteen year old daughter coming back from school is going to look completely different. Her agitation can be seen immediately. You smile and say „Hi, Annie!” and she mumbles „Hi” in response, going straight to her room, adding „I want to be alone now”. In this case, tuning in will consist in respecting her need to be left alone. She will find it a lot easier to go back to you and tell you what happened, when she feels no pressure to do it.

I think tuning in is one of the most beautiful and wisest educational methods ever discovered. More than often in difficult moments we experience a sense of loneliness, confusion, and helplessness; a sense that even the closest people we love do not understand us. Tuning in allows the child to EXPERIENCE the sense of security and connectedness with the parent. It gives the sense of being understood by the parent. It allows the child to calm emotions, quiet the mind, and achieve a state of inner balance.

Tuning in can be applied in any situation involving the child. Experiencing joy and enthusiasm from the child’s achievement together is something fantastic.

When we are tuned in, communication occurs on the heart-to-heart level, we experience each other with our senses, we reach a common space where pure love and affection abound.

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