How a Single Hour Can Solve Parenting Problems

“Although the Hand in Hand resources (booklets, podcasts, and videos) that I had already used had been so helpful to me and my husband, we still had so many questions. Having contact with a real human who similarly valued establishing connections with her children and could answer questions related to Hand-in-Hand was remarkably uplifting. It’s not just our kids who crave connection! And, this may sound strange, but simply making the commitment to do the consultation helped me feel even more committed to following through on the many wonderful things I have learned from Hand in Hand.” ~ a mom in Alaska

“I chose to try a Hand in Hand consultation because my son was waking up many times in the night. The longest stretch was 4 hours and then he would wake every hour to two hours. It could take over an hour to get him to sleep even if I nursed or bounced him. Naps were also suffering. During the consultation, I learned that crying is necessary. It doesn’t mean that you’re not doing a great job or that there’s something wrong with your child. I felt stronger as a parent listening and holding my son as he cried. While the consultation wasn’t an instant fix, it was extremely helpful and we continue to use the techniques that we learned. My son is now sleeping 8-9 hours a night, so we are inching in the right direction and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.” ~ a mom in California


When you schedule an hour with a Parenting by Connection consultant, you are matched with a parent consultant who has real experience and is trained in the Parenting by Connection listening tools. They know how hard you are trying and how deeply you care for your children. They listen with respect and warmth for you and your job as parent, which will give you time to think about your family and notice things you haven’t thought of before. This unique style of listening will allow you to find clarity in your situation.Our parent consultants will give you the support you need to move forward with patience and love. They will be ready to answer questions you have about the listening tools and offer new ways of connecting with your child.If you are ready to get the one-on-one support you need please visit our consulting page for more info >
Hand in Hand is a non-profit organization. We’re here to make a real difference for you and your family. So we offer a simple guarantee: If you aren’t completely satisfied with your consulting session,  we’ll either schedule you with a different consultant, or refund your fee.
With deep appreciation for the work you do as a parent,

The Hand in Hand Team

Play Helps Dissolve Frustration

nightgownBefore bed, my daughter and I had a fun Special Time together doing whatever she wanted. When the timer beeped (signaling the end of Special Time) she happily trotted off to her room to change into her new nightgown and get ready for bed. Within a few minutes though, she returned very unhappy.

“This nightgown is too short and I’m cold,” she complained.

“Yeah?” I replied. “Do you want to wear something else?”

“Ugh!” she growled. “I hate it! I don’t want it! You can just donate it!”

Since she was so happy after our time together I wasn’t sure what had shifted. I suspected the nightgown wasn’t really the issue, but sometimes I wonder is it the clothes or is she just needing something to get upset about? Only time would answer that question so I decided to stay close, available and calm to see what she would show me next.

I followed her into her room where she took off the nightgown and threw it into the laundry basket. I opened her drawer and pulled out her favorite jammies. “Do you want these?” I asked.

“Ugh!!” she growled again as she grabbed them from me and put them on.

I wanted to offer her my warmth and support for whatever was coming up for her, but wasn’t sure what direction to go. Did she need more connection through play or just my quiet presence and listening?  So, I said, “I noticed you were pretty happy a few minutes ago. And now, it’s like PHEW! all this stuff’s gotta come out.” I waited for her response to clue me in to what she needed.

She made some more ‘growly” noises, but then looked at me playfully and said, “Yeah! I just need to wrestle you!”

“Alright!” I said enthusiastically. Play was the way to go!

We wrestled for a little while. She laughed hard and came up with some new wrestling moves. We had a lot of good, non-stop giggles. When I was ready to stop I gave her a big hug and said it was time to brush teeth. She transitioned easily.

While we were in the bathroom she said, “I’m really hot, maybe that nightgown is a good idea.” She went back to her room and changed into her nightgown.

Just as I suspected, the nightgown wasn’t the issue. Just a little tension that needed to be released through a fun time wrestling and laughing with mom. Connection and play saves the evening again!

– Michelle Pate, Parenting by Connection Instructor and Consultant
Join one of her upcoming Building Emotional Understanding classes starting May 22nd @ 6pm Pacific Time OR May 23rd @ 10:30 am Pacific Time —– You can also connect with her on Facebook.

How to Connect with My Friends: Playlistening, of Course!

chalk boardMy daughter has a friend round today. It’s the weekend. They are 6 years old and in the same class. They have had a play date once before as we have only recently moved to this area. Her friend has been made homeless because the family was flooded out of their home. My daughter is actually doing Playlistening with her! She is making her friend laugh and laugh, and they are having a wonderful connecting experience. I have heard the friend say: “Oh, you’re the laughing lady!” They have been  dressing up and laughing all the time. I am hoping that this is very good for the friend because it can’t be much fun for her to see her home destroyed, or to have to live in other people’s houses.

So during all this time I have been doing Playlistening with my daughter, she has been storing it up as a good strategy for connecting. I am very proud of her. I didn’t need to teach her this. It arises from good connecting experiences.

Laura Newman
Instructor Candidate in the UK with Hand in Hand Parenting

Trading Places in the Family

Recently, my husband and I were on vacation with our three boys, and our oldest was seemingly always putting a damper on our fun adventures. The walk was too long. Someone was talking too loudly. Another’s socks were pulled up too high. Someone blocked the TV in the middle of the baseball game (because it was necessary to pass in front to get to the bathroom)… You get the picture. After a few days everyone wanted to bite this child’s head off.

My husband woke up one morning and announced that there was a new plan for the day – everyone was going to take on the identity of someone else in the family. Since we were there, in part, for a business conference, we all even had official name tags that clipped to our clothes! The boys (and we, too) got really excited, and after a lively discussion of who got to be who, we each clipped on our name tag and headed down to breakfast.

The second my husband was out the door of the hotel room, he began jumping all over and making goofy sounds, exactly the way our middle son would have done. We all busted up laughing. One of the kids said, “Dad, watch out! People are coming down the hall!” He ignored them and kept on with his silliness. The kids tensed up for a moment, but when they saw the smiles on the faces of the people walking towards us, fell back into laughter. I was our youngest, and kept hanging onto the leg of our oldest, who was acting as me. “MOM! Carry me! I’m tired!” (Mind you, this is 20 minutes after wake-up, and ten steps out of our hotel room.) Again, laughter, as our youngest son (now Dad), scolded me and told me to leave mom alone. “This is a public place!” Our middle son, playing our oldest, jumped right into his role beautifully: “Why is the restaurant so far away from everything?? This place is too big!” Then he began poking at his two brothers, purposefully trying to knock them down, or scare them by jumping out from behind a pillar. Everyone was rolling in laughter. Not just us, but everyone we passed!

After a while, our oldest tried to take on the role of correcting us all, and orchestrating how we should be acting, and what we should be saying – a pattern we’re working hard to help him shed. None of us caved. We just continued on in our roles, and the laughter kept coming and coming. I admit that our oldest, the inspiration for the game, wasn’t doubled over, but he was grinning ear to ear, and I definitely detected a handful of chuckles.

I also noted that he was really watching “himself.” How interesting to see “yourself” from the outside looking in. Identity is complicated, and so often we lack the insight to differentiate between our behaviors and who we really are at the core, or our children’s behaviors and the sweet, lovable kids we know they are. Taking on the identity of another with them watching, and seeing “ourselves” from the outside, broke the tension created by all that identity confusion, and allowed us to see ourselves, and one another, for the people we really are:  good people with some behaviors that we would all do well to shed.

Tosha Schore~ Tosha Schore is a Certified Parenting by Connection instructor in the San Francisco Bay Area. Join Tosha on January 28 for her next Online Parenting Class, Building Emotional Understanding.

You can learn more about Parenting by Connection in the Listening to Children booklet set.

“I Hate Oatmeal!”

My husband was making a pot of oatmeal for breakfast last weekend, and it was time for the family to come to the table.  But our 8-year-old son saw that the oatmeal wasn’t the kind he usually has, and he started saying, “I hate that oatmeal!” My husband responded, “Well, that’s what there is for breakfast.  It is either that or nothing!”And our son said, “I want the oatmeal I always have! I hate that kind!” I was quietly listening to the conflict. Our son left the table screaming and yelling and very upset.  He kept saying, “I hate this oatmeal!”

My husband was getting a little upset too, and suggested, “If you don’t want to eat this oatmeal and you want to act like this, then you can go to your room, please!” At this point I saw our son going to his room alone, and I told my husband I could take it from there. I followed him into his room, and said, “Hey, you really hate this oatmeal, don’t you?” Our son said, “Yeah!” and started yelling and screaming even more.  “I hate always doing what you want me to do!”

Soon he became physical and I needed to hold his arm and to keep a safe distance so that his hitting and kicking would not land on me.

I kept saying, “You hate this oatmeal!” and he kept saying, “I hate this oatmeal!”

I kept blocking the hitting, and his kicking and hitting continued while he kept hating the oatmeal. Then, all of a sudden, he started laughing while still kicking. When I heard his laughter, I felt assured that I was doing the right thing by allowing him to let off steam and to be understood.  His little brother was relieved at seeing this too.
Then, together, my son and I alternated between stomping our feet around the room, chanting, “I hate this oatmeal!” and him doing protected kicking and hitting. We wound up laughing until we both fell on the floor. Finally, our son stopped and said, “I am ready to eat my oatmeal now!”
And he ate the whole bowl of oatmeal and even had a second!  He was cheerful all morning after that. Today, a week later, we asked him if he would like to have some oatmeal. He saw that it was the kind he had hated so much a week ago. He answered, “Oh, I like this kind of oatmeal!”
–A Parent in a Skillbuilding Class

Listening to Tears Before School

One morning while clipping my daughter’s nails I made the comment, “Oh, I think I clipped that one too short.” It wasn’t a big deal at first since it didn’t hurt. (If I hadn’t of said anything my daughter wouldn’t have noticed.) But after a minute or two it became the perfect pretext for her tears before school.

She began crying and insisting she couldn’t go to school. I gently told her I was sorry I cut it too short and that I thought it would grow back quickly. She cried more saying she wouldn’t be able to hold anything and therefore couldn’t have any fun at school.

At one point as I listened I felt myself tighten. I could hear an internal dialogue start that I shouldn’t be giving her attention over this. In that moment I wanted to say, “Get over it. You’re crying over nothing.”

Luckily I didn’t. I took a deep breath and realized at her age I didn’t usually get loving-attention when I was upset over little things. I was told to stop crying over spilled milk. I refocused on the present moment and my obviously upset child. I reassured myself that it didn’t matter if the tears were about the nail or not. What mattered was supporting her through this release of upset feelings.

I told her I really believed her finger would be okay and she could go to school, and then I simply held her as she cried more.

As her tears came to a natural end, she easily brushed her teeth, put on her socks (our usual morning issue!) and as she got in the car she happily told me her finger was feeling fine. A little listening was all she needed to get on with her day.

~ Michelle Pate, Parenting by Connection Instructor and Consultant. Join her Building Emotional Understanding course, beginning March 14th  and connect with her on Facebook!

Building a Parenting Community for Yourself and Your Family

Doing something new or different with your parenting can be an adventure. It can also feel deeply validating when you connect with other parents who are doing the same thing. Here are some ideas for bringing together a local group of families to support, encourage and enjoy one another along the Parenting by Connection path.

ImageMeet Globally, Connect Locally

To start off, you are welcome to join our online discussion group of over 1000 Parenting by Connection parents. Our group is quite active. It’s a welcoming, supportive place for parents, caregivers and professionals to talk about using Parenting by Connection and our archives contain years of inquiries and discussions on a multitude of parenting topics. But even more importantly, you can use the group mailing list to connect with parents who live near you. You are welcome to post a note there asking parents in your area to contact you. Then you can talk about ways to connect in person, perhaps meeting at a local park to introduce yourselves. You can post the same type of message on our Facebook page, if you would like.

If you’d be interested in writing about how you are using Parenting by Connection in your family, we’d be happy to include it on our blog along with any contact info you’d like to share with local parents who are interested in connecting with you.

You might also consider starting your own local Parenting by Connection Study Group. You can download the guidelines for the Study Group and get started right away. You don’t need to be an expert. We have booklets and articles to guide you. You simply need an interest in listening to other parents with deep respect, warmth and confidence in their intelligence, and a commitment to listen without offering judgment or advice.

Have a wonderful time building your parenting community!


Julianne Idleman
Director of Communications at Hand in Hand