I was so excited to read this book by my mentors Patty Wipfler and Tosha Schore, although part of me felt like I wouldn’t learn anything new since I’ve been an instructor with Hand in Hand Parenting for over three years now. How wrong I was!
This is a wonderful book that manages to be perfectly accessible for those completely new to Hand in Hand, and offering new ideas and inspiration for seasoned pros.
I love how the book begins with stories of Patty and Tosha’s own childhood and what led them on their parenting path. As a writer I’m always really curious at how two people can actually write a book together and the results are seamless, their voices are interwoven perfectly.
In the first chapters Patty and Tosha introduce all of the five tools, staylistening, playlistening, special time, setting limits and listening partnerships. If you’ve been dipping in and out of articles about Hand in Hand Parenting, and wondering what all the terms mean, the book will really help get it all clear in your head so you can really start putting the tools into action.
Then the book goes more in-depth to introduce the idea of emotional projects; those big issues that can be a struggle for children because of their emotional charge. So whether your project involves helping your baby with a fear of the car seat, or helping a toddler sleep through the night you can learn how to use all the Hand in Hand tools to work through those bigger difficulties.
Then there’s a section on building co-operation, with advice and examples of how you can apply the tools to everyday family challenges like mealtimes, homework and screens, and chapters on fears, and separations.
What I loved most about this book is the stories. There are over 100 stories from parents describing how they apply the tools in different situations. This was such a wealth of inspiration to me. As I read stories about how families managed screentime, and picky eating, I felt re-energised to set limits in areas where I’d got permissive, and really remind myself to listen to the feelings behind that behaviour rather than just letting the behaviour slide.
As a Hand in Hand Parenting instructor, I do have a lot of in-depth knowledge of how to apply the approach. But just like anyone else, I’m also an everyday parent. I’m not sitting in a nice tidy office consulting with parents from 9-5. I’m usually at home in the trenches, looking after my daughter, and having the odd skype call here and there where I get to be a ‘parenting expert.’
I still have my struggles. I still get tired and exhausted and can’t think clearly, and then like an athlete with an injury, I know what I need to do, but sometimes I just can’t.
At times like those I’ll call a listening partner, and I’ll also try to get fresh inspiration. That might be reading an article, or writing one, or watching one of the online self-study courses from Hand in Hand. And reading this book! In our internet age it was so refreshing to get offline, rather than jumping from one parenting article from another, to relax and let my thoughts wonder, and come back to parenting refreshed.
So if you’re completely new to Hand in Hand then grab this book to get the full picture. And if you’ve been doing Hand in Hand for years then read it to have a wonderful break and come back to parenting completely refreshed. And don’t forget to call your listening partner too, of course!