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

HappyFamily
“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

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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

Solutions for My Son’s Homework Tantrums

After the start of the second grade, I very quickly noticed some heavy struggles around homework come up. At the start of the year, my son’s second grade teacher gave all the parents special instructions for doing homework this year: set a timer for 30 minutes for homework time, and when that timer goes off, put the pencil down and walk away. If any tears or yelling happens before the timer goes off, put the pencil down and walk away. It was as though he was perfectly foreshadowing what we were about to see.

For a number of days in a row, when homework time approached in the evening, my son met it with resistance and frustration. I would see a range of reactions, from announcing that it was boring and he wasn’t going to do it, to kicking and yelling and crying over his homework. I noticed in myself how inflexible I was around homework time – I was frustrated that he wouldn’t just sit down and do the assignments that looked to me like they were easy enough to do with his eyes closed! It got to the point where I could not touch homework time – we just had to wait until my husband got home to do it with him, as he was somehow able to put more play and lightness to it and succeeded in helping our son get it completed. I could see that this was going to be an emotional project for the whole family and needed a new strategy fast.

I started on this issue in my own listening partnerships. I got listening about how frustrating homework was, how intolerable my sons behavior was, especially when it was always topics I know he is good at and have seen him complete with ease! I got listening around how when I was his age homework was easy for me, so why did it have to be such a struggle for him? And finally, how I don’t like that homework even exists! It cuts into our family time in the evenings, and more often than not is IS as boring as my son says it is.

Next, I made a point to do Special Time with my son before my husband got home to do homework with him. Honestly I was happy to do Special Time in place of homework with my son, it was much more enjoyable. We would wrestle, or pillow fight, or play his favorite video game depending on what he would choose. I started to notice that homework time seemed to go much easier when he would get this extra connection. I saw these as little victories along the way, but still I found that writing homework of any kind continued to be a frustrating struggle.

One evening my son pulled out his spelling and writing assignments and asked for my help. He was already upset about the subject of the homework before he even pulled it out of his backpack. I asked him to read me the instructions while I was cooking something in the kitchen. He became more and more distracted and agitated. I told him it was time to stop playing with what he was playing with and sit down to focus on homework. “Then come help me!!” He screamed. He screamed this again, and I put down what I was doing to come in closer to him. He kept yelling “Help me! Help me!” over and over again, and the closer I got to him while offering my help with my words, the louder he yelled it. He was kicking and screaming on the floor and I just continued to say “I am here to help you,” while he continued to scream for help.

This went on for some time and I continued to stay close, holding a gentle arm around his baby brother to make sure he did not accidentally get kicked. I acknowledged that homework was frustrating, that he works really hard all day at school. He screamed and kicked, and cried a small amount. After a while his system began to settle down and relax. He turned to a toy to play with and I let him take his time to play and relax while I went back to the kitchen to cook dinner.

By the time dinner was done, he had returned to the table and quietly completed his homework on his own. He was very proud of his work, and showed me each part.  In these last few weeks, I have continued my connection tools all in combination, and it has meant that I have been able to help him with his homework. He now will often complete it before my husband gets home and we get extra time to play and connect as a whole family.

 

Natalie Thiel, Certified Parenting by Connection Instructor

If you have challenges around homework or setting limits, Natalie can help.  Join Natalie in her upcoming Building Emotional Understanding online class starting April 30.  Register now!

Listen to the podcast of her teleseminar How Do I Connect With My Baby?.

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

My Son Finds the Courage to Speak Up

My son and his babysitterOur babysitter came over, and she and my 4-year-old son were having a pillow fight in the other room. My son ran to me and buried his face in my lap. I could sense he was very upset about something that just happened. I put my hand gently on his back and tried to make eye contact with him. I was quiet and listened to him cry. I could tell he wasn’t badly hurt and just needed me to do some Staylistening with him.

After a minute he popped his head up from my lap and said, “Emily was too rough with me.” “Oh, I see,” I said. “I’m wondering if you’re okay?” He pointed to his back. It looked fine.

Emily came in the room and said he hurt his back. My son was still crying and I continued to listen and offer my warmth and attention. After a couple of minutes he got up and went to eat something. About 10 minutes later my son said very clearly, in a big voice, “Emily, you were too rough with me.” She apologized.

-Christine Ashe, Certified Instructor

Screen Time Becomes Connection Time

As my son grows older the draw towards video games is getting stronger and17748588-boy-playing-game-on-cell-phone-kid-holding-mobile-on-grey-background
stronger, and so is the family struggle over them. I started to notice the tension and frustration around video games increasing and began to set limits, but it did not seem to be quite enough. I would set a limit, and he would express his feelings, but never quite follow them all the way through, and for a period of time it continued as a daily negotiation.

He began suggesting playing video games during our Special Time. I hesitated at
first, thinking that it was not a good use of our quality time together, and worried that it might serve to encourage his constant desire to play them. But I told him it was his choice, and so we snuggled up real close under some blankets to play games on my iPhone. The first time we did this, he wanted to play the whole time and have me watch. I simply offered as much connection and enthusiasm as I could muster during the time. Then the timer went off, and I told him it was time to stop and put the games away. I moved in close to set the limit, and I held my hand over the screen on the phone. He erupted into a heap of feelings, insisting he had to play one more round, and angry that Iwas making him shut it off. I sat and stayed close to him while he kicked and yelled and offloaded his frustration. After he wound down he was flexible enough to do other things.

This same scenario repeated a second and third time when we did Special Time.
He chose to play video games, and after the timer went off I would ask him to turn it off and he would offload his feelings about it. After a few of these, I began to notice shifts in the way the Special Time was going. He was having me play more and more of the levels with him, and becoming much more flexible about turning it off, as well as not asking to play any more for the rest of the evening.

These past couple of weeks he has wanted to play video games during his Special Time, and I have come to really enjoy it! We snuggle under a blanket together, and he facilitates us switching turns back and forth on the different levels and challenges of the games we play. It feels like we are really playing together and we laugh and get excited and give each other “high fives” to celebrate good moves all the way through. When the 15 minutes are up it has been me who says, “OK, we’ve gotta do one more round!” It really does feel like connected play. Then when it is time to stop he is flexible and ready to shift to the next thing. I have also been noticing that he is not asking to play as much,
and when he does and I set a limit, he can cooperate with my limit.

Natalie Thiel, Certified Parenting by Connection Instructor

Join Natalie in her upcoming Building Emotional Understanding online class starting April 30.  Register now!

Listen to the podcast of her teleseminar How Do I Connect With My Baby?.

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

Saying Good-Bye to Our Old House

It was mid-October and we had been in the new house for about 8 weeks. My daughter LOVED the new house. She had her own room with a bunk bed, a tree house, a hot tub… and a big yard to play in every day. Except for the evening when we moved, most of her attention over these weeks had been on how fun and exciting it was to live in our new house.

But on this particular evening, 8 weeks in to living at the new house, my daughter uncovered feelings of loss about leaving the old house. When I was tucking her in, we were praying (part of our usual routine), and she asked if we could pray a blessing for our new house. As I was praying for the new house, my daughter let out a sob and turned and threw her arms around me. “I miss the old house SO much!” she said. The tears came readily, and she quickly had big fat tears streaming down her cheeks, and sobs coming from deep in her belly.

The light had been out, so I turned it on dimly so she could see my face as I listened to her, propped up on my elbow. At first I just made little noises of compassion, occasionally adding, “You really miss the old house!” or repeating other phrases she had said.

Then she started talking about the particulars of the old house, like “There were four steps leading up into the house and it was perfect for my sli-i-i-nky! (sob, sob) And this house doesn’t have enough steps for my slinky to go down!” She would cry for a minute or two and then remember something else she loved about living in the old house, like “Remember how you would pull that cutting board out of the kitchen counter and pull my high chair right up to it, and then I could eat breakfast right next to where you were doing the dishes! (sob, sob) Now I never get to stick so close to you while you do the dishes!” Or, “I miss that couch with the big cushy cushions—we made the BEST forts with that couch! (sob, sob).” With each thing she mentioned, as she started to slow down with her sobbing, I would quietly add, ““Good-bye steps!” or “Good-bye favorite-spot-at-the-counter!” or “Good-bye cushiony couch!” at which point her sobs would deepen again. When the sobs lessened, I would repeat the good-bye, until it ran out of steam, and then she’d move on to a new “favorite thing” to say good-bye to.

It was sweet to hear the long list of things that mattered to her so much about our life together in our old place—details that made up her experience of “home” there. The old house was actually a tiny little cottage that was right next door to the new house. After she’d been crying heartily for about 30 minutes I suggested that we go look out her bedroom window from where we could see the cottage. We sat at her window, her on my lap, for another 15-20 minutes, with her looking longingly at the little cottage, saying, “I loved that home SO much!“ and sobbing deeply, with big fat tears, remembering more and more about what she loved there. At one point she said, “I feel like if I never see inside that cottage again my heart will break into eleven pieces!! (sob, sob).”

Eventually her sobs settled down, she wiped her face and said, “I’m ready to go to sleep now, Mommy.” I tucked her in and she slept deeply for twelve hours. The next day there was no sign of the upset of the previous night, and she was back to enjoying her life in our new house. I imagined how different my life would have been if with every move I had had the chance to say good-bye—with attention and in detail—to each and every tiny thing I loved about the previous house. I took this to my next listening session, and had a good hearty cry myself. Once again, following my daughter’s lead, I got to clear out a little section of my own old hurts that had previously gone untouched.

Join Certified Instructor Angela Jernigan in one of her classes:

1) “Tears and Tantrums” class, beginning March 16. More information available here.

2) Building Emotional Understanding class, beginning March 27. More information available here.

3) Professionals Intensive course, beginning March 29.  More information available here.

Using Special Time and StayListening to Help My Daughter Get Ready for Company

It was a Sunday afternoon, shortly after my we had moved to our new house. My four-year old daughter Leah had just come home from an overnight at her father’s house and we had two hours until our House Warming Party. We had been happily anticipating this party since our move. Leah was especially excited to share her new tree house with our friends. Leah had returned from her dad’s house chock full of feelings—she seemed sullen and sad and had lost all enthusiasm about the party.

I decided to help my daughter get in better emotional shape so that she would be able to enjoy our party. I asked her if she wanted some Special Time in order to help her really know that she had me. We did 10 minutes of Special Time, in which she wanted to hang out on my big bed and snuggle and wrestle. I offered lots of warmth and body contact. We did “flying airplane” and “trot-trot to Boston” and other physical games, with snuggles in between.

When the timer went off, I told Leah that Special Time was over and that it was time to start getting ready for our guests to arrive (I was already ready for the party, but wanted her to begin anticipating the arrival of our friends).

She said that she only wanted to be with me and that she changed her min about the party. I said, “You have a little bit longer to be alone with me, and the our friends will come over.” She insisted that she didn’t want to see anyone else. I repeated again (in a light, warm tone, while giving lots of eye contact) that soon lots of our favorite people would be coming to our house. She became more adamant. “No! I only want to be with you! I don’t want anyone else!” She began to cry. I kept my words simple, saying that I was sorry it didn’t feel like what she wanted, but that our friends would be arriving soon. Soon she was crying mightily, telling me that she never gets enough time with me and that she misses me when she’s with her dad.”

I stayed in close and told her, “You’ve really got me. And you get to be close to other people, too.” Her cries were deep and hearty, with big tears streaming down her face, which was getting red. She cried like this for about twenty minutes, continuing to repeat that she didn’t want to see anyone else, that I was the only person she wanted. I reassured her again and again that she really has me, and that she has other people who love her, too.

After about twenty minutes her crying slowed down. I continued giving her eye contact, and staying in close. Suddenly her eyes brightened and she said, “Do you think Hazel will be coming to the party?” I said, “Yes!” She perked up and said, “Yay! Because I haven’t seen her all weekend!!”

Soon our friends did start to arrive, and Leah enthusiastically welcomed each person—squealing and hopping up and down as each new friend arrived. She played hard all afternoon—bringing her friends into her tree house, showing them her new bedroom, and the back yard. She thoroughly enjoyed herself, playing and laughing with friends for over three hours. That night she went to bed happily and easily, and slept deeply.

Join Certified Instructor Angela Jernigan in one of her classes:

1) “Tears and Tantrums” class, beginning March 16. More information available here.

2) Building Emotional Understanding class, beginning March 27. More information available here.

3) Professionals Intensive course, beginning March 29.  More information available here.

Silencing Myself Opened My Son Up More Than Ever

My son and I had special time once a week for many years.  He always wanted to do the same thing–go to the mall.  We would play at the arcade, have an ice cream and come home.  It seemed I was always struggling to get him to tell me more about his thoughts and feelings.  I had some success, but not as much as I wanted, and chalked this up to him being a boy.

One week, a good friend of mine died and I decided to not speak for a few days. I told my son that we could go to the mall and have our special time if he wanted, but I would not speak.  He said OK that he wanted to go anyway.  We began the drive and about 5 minutes down the road, he began to talk to me about pretty deep stuff.  Like how he felt when his brother was born, and what he thinks about god and other people’s ideas about religion.  He told me how he struggled when his father and I separated but now how he has worked it out so it is ok.  He talked about school, friends, teachers, in great detail.  I said nothing.

We cruised the mall, he did not want to play games, we just walked and he talked in a really relaxed way.  We drove home with him talking and when we got home he asked me not to get out of the car yet.  He talked another 20 minutes and then kissed me goodnight and said he was tired.  I sat in the car alone after he left, quite stunned and realized that the only thing different this week was me. I did not encourage, lead, explain, teach, guide, criticize him in any way and he was able to pour his mind out in an easy stream of talking about his life and his world.

Now that he is an adult, we often laugh about that time and sometimes when he feels I am not listening he will remind me of that night and it is our signal for me to just listen.

-Certified Instructor Emmy Rainwalker

Emmy Rainwalker

Join Emmy’s Building Emotional Understanding Online starting March 18. Register now.