Interactional Synchrony

But what does sensitive caregiving involve? In Western cultures, one of the earliest ways caregivers can show sensitive care to their infant is through a form of communication called interactional synchrony. When interactions have synchrony, both partners share a mutual focus. They mirror each other’s emotions. They also respond to each other’s cues in a reciprocal and rhythmic manner. This might be sharing positive emotions such as mutual smiles and laughter. It can also be the mother responding to her baby’s cries or negative emotions. Through these back-and-forth interactions parents learn about their infant’s signals and emotions. This helps parents provide a quick response to their infant. These examples are all parts of sensitive parenting. They all relate to the development of attachment security.

On the next page, watch the video to see one example of interactional synchrony. As you watch, notice what the mother does to match her baby.

  • Interactional synchrony
    caregivers and infants respond to each other in a reciprocal and rhythmic manner