The Hand in Hand approach was developed and is supported by Hand in Hand Parenting, a not for profit based in Palo Alto, California, working world wide with parents, parent leaders and professionals who support parents.
Through Instructors around the world, we offer practical tools with which to build an authoritative approach to parenting – offering high warmth and clear, firmly and appropriately offered limits. The guiding principles of Hand in Hand are:
- Children need a strong sense of connection in order to function well – co-operate, reason, learn, make friends, take initiative.
- Parents want to be close to their children, but the current circumstances of parenting – isolation, lack of financial resource, lack of good support and information – make that hard.
- Feeling disconnected or stressed causes children’s behaviour to flare. Traditional responses to “behaviour problems” often fail to address the underlying emotional needs of children, or to take account of the state of their relationship with their parents and how that influences their ability to function effectively.
- Feeling isolated and stressed causes parents’ behaviour to flare. When emotional stress sends parents’ behaviour off track, they need support and reliable ways to reduce the stress.
Parenting is emotional work. Parenting is also a relationship. Hand in Hand offers parents and carers tools for making sense of and resolving their own, and their children’s, emotional tensions, and for strengthening and repairing the connection between adult and child.
We teach 6 Listening Tools, focusing on
Special Time and Playlistening are child-directed playtimes, where parents to follow children’s lead in play with warmth and enthusiasm without trying to teach, give direction or make suggestions, and promoting laughter where possible. These tools build the parent- child relationship, allowing the child to show their concerns, struggles and interests, and facilitate healing of fears and embarrassments though laughter. In some circumstances, Playlistening also serves as a way to set limits lightly and without harshness.
Is central to parenting, and needs to address the underlying emotional tension driving children’s “off track” behaviour. Effective limit setting seeks to build connection between adult and child, not damage it.
Once a child starts the emotional release process, adults can Staylisten, remaining close and attentive, without criticism or blame. When the child is finished, he can feel the caring the adult has offered, and he can relax, learn, and play well again. This empowers parents to meet their children’s upsets without feeling they must always “fix the problem” or “settle” or “quiet” their children.
Parents also develop emotional resilience and build support networks around their parenting though Listening Partnerships and Parent Resource Groups. Each adult takes an equal turn to listen to the other without interruption, judgement or advice giving. This gives parents a chance to reflect on the challenges of parenting, playing with and listening to their children. Our short talks offer parents a chance to try a Listening Partnership, and our courses are structured around the Parent Resource Group.