By Kristen Manieri

The Power of Attuning

Recently on The Synced Life podcast, I had the great pleasure of interviewing Heather Turgeon, MFT and Julie Wright, MFT, authors of The Happy Sleeper, and their most recent book, Now Say This: The Right Words to Solve Every Parenting Dilemma

Imagine there was a way to more effectively and more quickly get our kids to do what we want them to do, when we want them to do it. Imagine if all the struggle and resistance and frustration dramatically decreased in our family life. 

Heather and Julie did more than just imagine these idyllic sceneries: they created a formula for consistently creating more peace, calm, cooperation and relatedness between parents and kids. In this interview, we dive deep into their ALP approach (Attune, Limit Set and Problem Solve) and learn how we can all relate better with each other by becoming skilled in the power of attuning. 

“When you listen to kids, they are much more likely to listen to you,” says Julie in this interview. To her, mindful parenting is the quickest and most effective way to get kids to do what we want them to do because it’s founded in a desire to create collaboration rather than dominate or control someone. The result is a lowering in defenses and, more importantly, the ability to give our kids the experience of being seen, understood and empathized with. 

There was so much gold in this interview, but here are a few of my favorite takeaways: 

1. Attuning is a habit, a practice. It takes patience and repetition to get the hang of it. 

2. You can always ask for a do-over. No one has this all figured out yet. There’s no shame in admitting to our kids when we’ve messed up. 

3. Approaching the people in our lives like they are innately good and wired for cooperation makes it so much easier to start the attunement process because we lead with relatedness. As Heather says, “they are little people trying to figure out a big world.”

4. You can follow through on a limit without being angry. 

5. PAUSE! Take a breath, go slower. Attunement isn’t possible when we’re moving 50 miles an hour 

6. Connection sometimes trumps getting somewhere on time or even getting there at all. Sometimes we just need to do less, be late, cancel or say no to a commitment for the sake of our own sanity and the sanity in our family. 

7. Look under the iceberg. When someone is being whiny or angry or salty look to see what is causing it (fatigue, hunger, thirst, etc.) rather than what you’re seeing on the surface. 

8. One of the best questions we can ever ask our kids (or anyone, for that matter) is “tell me more about that.” Notice the moments when you can proactively attune and give them the space to share themselves. 

9. We don’t have to solve all of our child’s problems or conflicts; scaffolding gives us the chance to create a foundation around them that gives them the tools and support to solve their own issues. 

10. We can be coaches and facilitators, not referees, when our kids have conflict with each other, and teach them how to attune, limit set and problem solve with each other. 


If you want to learn more about Heather and Julie’s books and services, visit http://thehappysleeper.com/

About Heather Turgeon, MFT

Heather is a psychotherapist who specializes in sleep and parenting. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times and The Washington Post, among other publications. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two kids. She and Julie frequently speak at parenting centers and schools, as well as offer sleep consultations and individual therapy. 

About Julie Wright, MFT

Julie is the creator of the Wright Mommy and Me, one of Los Angeles’s best-known mommy and me programs. She has specialized training and experience in the 0 to 3 years, having interned at the Cedar-Sinai Early Childhood Center and Los Angeles Child Guidance Clinic. She lives in New York City and has a son in college. 

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