Hand in Hand parenting is based on listening. It starts with being listened to as parents, which gives us the patience and energy to listen to our own children’s emotional moments.
When we do so, we discover that our children are naturally, good, loving, and co-operative, and it’s emotional upsets that cause them to behave in off-track ways. We can help them with their emotions through connection and listening, which keeps their behaviour on-track. Family life becomes much more fun and enjoyable for everyone.
It started one day over thirty years ago, when Patty Wipfler was a young mother, and was asked by a younger woman what parenting was like. When she burst into tears, and was listened to with warmth and empathy she discovered that crying (and laughter to!) is a healing process, a way we can recover from our stress and upset. She realised just how important is that parents get a chance to de-stress so they can be the parents they want to be.
Hand in Hand parenting is an approach made up of 5 Listening Tools. The foundation of Hand in Hand parenting is called a listening partnership, where two or more parents, share time talking and listening about how parenting is going. It’s based on the idea that our past experiences cause our present day difficulties.
When we talk about the challenges in our lives, with someone who listens to us with warmth and empathy, we slowly build the safety to show our feelings. We might laugh, we might cry, we might reflect on our own childhood, and as we do so we shed the baggage that gets in the way of being the parents we want to be.
With support from other Hand in Hand parents in classes or regular listening partnerships, we can begin to integrate the other Hand in Hand parenting tools into our lives.
Staylistening – Crying is a healing process, and scientific research has found that tears contain the stress hormone cortisol. When children cry they are literally releasing stress from their bodies that may have built up from upsetting experiences. Staylistening means staying close when our children cry or tantrum, and allowing them to fully express their emotions. We give our children affection and warmth, without trying to distract, stop or ‘fix’ things too soon. Our children can fully release the upset feelings that cause their off-track behaviour, and return to their natural, loving, co-operative selves.
Special Time – Set a timer for a period of time, perhaps 10-15 mins. Tell your child, they can do exactly what they want (as long as it’s safe!), and follow their lead. Let them fully direct the play, while you shower your love and attention on them. Special time is great before periods of separation, and really helps to build a strong sense of connection with our child. It also is a great way to reconnect after a separation.
Playlistening – We pick up on what makes our child laugh, while they are in the more powerful role, and repeat it to get the giggles going, (except tickling). This helps our child to release tension, and it builds co-operation. It also builds children’s confidence to feel powerful and strong. Playlistening can involve roughhousing, which studies have shown reduces aggression in children, and helps healthy brain development.
Setting Limits – With Parenting by Connection we teach how to set limits in a gentle, connected way that builds closeness with our child. When we need to set a limit, we listen to our child’s feelings, with warmth and empathy, understanding that once they are free of upset feelings, they are usually happy to co-operate with us (if our request is reasonable!)
Want to get started with Hand in Hand? Here’s info about the Parenting By Connection Starter Class.