Author Archives: Madeleine Winter

About Madeleine Winter

Madeleine is a certified Hand in Hand Parenting Instructor and Parenting Coach. Her focus is on strengthening relationships and on building the parent-child connection from zero through to adulthood. As the parent of a teen, she knows how that must change and shift as children get older, but that the focus needs to stay on building connection. She provides practical tools to empower parents to build close connections and emotional safety with their children and support for themselves. Madeleine was lucky to be introduced to Hand in Hand many years before becoming a parent, and has been working with families using the approach for over 20 years. Witnessing how her child used these Listening Tools from the beginning inspired her to share them more actively with other parents and carers. In 2009 she founded Listening to Children Through Play, which is now "Hand in Hand Parenting with Madeleine Winter". Madeleine works across Sydney including with culturally diverse communities and families for whom English is not the first language. She also loves to work with fathers. “Fathers have such a special role to play in family life, and they get so little attention as dads”. Madeleine runs workshops and courses flexibly to meet the needs of parents, from 1 hour one-off events through to the 6 week Starter Class. She also works with parents and their children, individually and in groups, coaching them in the Listening Tools. Her workshops and courses can be structured around common parenting challenges and present each of the six Hand in Hand Listening Tools as appropriate. Since 2014, Madeleine has been part of the Instructor Certification Team, mentoring new Instructors across the world through Hand in Hand's 9 month long Instructor Certification Program. You can contact Madeleine at madeleine "at"madeleinewinter "dot"com Madeleine says “the best thing I ever did was become a parent. I don’t want any parent to feel bad about themselves as a parent. No matter what the struggle, we parents are the bravest, most dedicated bunch of people I ever came across, and I feel so proud to be one. “What I love about Hand in Hand is that it offers practical ways to recover from the mistakes we make, learn from them, and prevent difficulties in future. It means we can support and love our children the way we dreamed we would, when we first became parents. I’m not a fantastic parent or a natural player – but these Listening Tools work. In many ways, Hand in Hand (and a kitchen timer) saved the play at our house! ” “I also love that Hand in Hand offers us tools to build support around ourselves as we parent. One of the hardest things is not having people to plan with, share with, problem-solve with, and get help from about the work of parenting.” Madeleine often works with her husband, Roewen Wishart, an experienced Hand in Hand Parenting father. Together, they use the Listening Tools in their own parenting and relationship with one another. They love to share these Tools with friends, and like nothing better than a good old Saturday night family-and-friends wrestle. Here’s what some parents have said about her work: "I liked being reminded that we are all good parents. The talk was structured around our questions and I wish we had longer - I could always take more listening to you, Madeleine. I really enjoyed today's session and find this style of parenting very child focussed and child friendly." Foster/adoptive parent of 18 month old, who attended a talk on "Helping Your Child With Their Fears and Worries" and a 3 week Hand in Hand course “Tears, Tantrums and Other Troubles”. "It's working! What you've suggested is actually helping me not only understand these unique little people but it seems to work well with my husband too! And for the first time in ages I've been enjoying parenting. This is a huge shift. Thank you." Mother of 4 year old twins and 5 year old, who attended talks on “Why Can’t They Just Get Along? Some Solutions for Sibling Rivalries” and “Why Won’t They Just Do What I Say? Limit Setting Without Saying Time-Out” and has worked with Madeleine one-on-one. “Madeleine was great - she kept us on track. Madeleine’s like a "personal trainer" that kept reminding us "get fit"! Do you do home visits? I think you would make a great Super Nanny!” Father of baby, toddler and 10 year old, “Hand in Hand Parenting Starter Class for Fathers” Course. “I have found the parent to parent listening time very good and enjoyed it very much. Madeleine and Roewen were great facilitators and I felt very well supported.” Father of 9 year old boy, “Hand in Hand Parenting Starter Class for Fathers” Course. More about Hand in Hand Parenting. Hand in Hand Parenting was developed and is supported by a not for profit based in Palo Alto, California, working world wide with parents, parent leaders and professionals who support parents. 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 the Hand in Hand Parenting approach 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 Parenting 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: Play: 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. Limit Setting: needs to address the underlying emotional tension driving children’s “off track” behaviour, and to be effective must build connection between adult and child, not damage it. Listening: 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 a turn to listen to the other without interruption, judgement or advice giving. This gives parents a chance to reflect on the challenges of parenting and 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. You can find out more at www.handinhandparenting.org

Why Reaching for Consequences Doesn’t Work

It can be so easy to reach for consequences when you feel frustrated with your children.  And while you are more powerful than your child, they might get some results.

But in the longer run, that exercise of power doesn’t work.  As our children get older, and gain some power of their own, your efforts at coercion will show up in conflict and tension. Continue reading

Fireworks in the sky - celebration

What do I wish for us in the New Year?

I love working with parents. I love listening to us, I love how hard we work, I love what a force for change we represent – we would do almost anything for our kids. I love how hard we strive for integrity.

This year, what would I like for parents? I’d love that we get paid for the work we do. I’d love that we had enough training. I’d love that there was enough practical help and support that we could get a regular, reliable break when we needed it.

But the real killer, for parents, is what happens to the inside of our heads. We are soooo hard on ourselves. I’d love for us to stop that. Continue reading

Mother and teen daughter cuddle, enjoying one another

I’m so sick of nagging!

“How do I get a child to do as asked, and not when they feel like it, but when you ask them to? I’m totally sick of ranting, having to follow my child round the house to make sure he’s doing what i asked. He won’t come to dinner when asked, won’t go to bed when asked, won’t do anything when asked. Will do things I’ve asked him not to do. Not all the time, but mostly and when he sees fit. He’s too tired to get up and do things he even wants to do. I want him to be able to put himself to bed early, not after he’s done whatever he sees fit.”

Nagging wears us out. And it wears our kids out. Or more accurately, it wears our relationship with our kids out. Nagging our older children is one of those things which can seem so tempting and justified. After all, they are bigger now. They ought to be able to do it. And now they are older, you sure are sick if doing it all, which you’ve probably been doing, un-thanked, for years now…We’ve all been there.

Unfortunately, nagging often doesn’t move anything much forward. In fact, it can move things backward. When your relationship with your child is characterised by trying to get them to do things but there’s no progress then its probably a sign that things need to change. Continue reading

Mean looking female teacher with class rules written on blackborad

“My Teacher is So Mean!”

“I have a 9 year old daughter whose first day of 3rd grade was today and it appears we have “the mean teacher”. I’m thinking of going to see the principal, the teacher, and maybe trying to get her moved into another class. But what can I do if that doesn’t work? Only 179 more days to go. Ugh.”

Sound familiar? It can be agonising trying to work out how to help our child through tough times with their teachers. In situations like this we need to be our children’s advocate. And we also need to keep our focus on building and repairing relationships – with the school and the teacher, and with our children. Around issues to do with school, there are things we can, and things we cannot control. And the place we have real power and influence is in our relationship with our children. Continue reading

Upset teen girl sits, head hidden, blocking us out.

A Little Bit of Special Time Goes a Long Way

It’s easy to put off Special Time.  After all, family life is busy, and in some ways gets oddly busier when we have older children.   But Special Time it brings rich benefits when we do it.  Most importantly it builds emotional safety.

Even when it is “pretty basic”, as this mother puts it, Special Time refreshes and renews our children’s sense of our confidence in and for them, and reassures them of our love for them.  This is what our children need in order to begin offloading the emotional backpacks they are carrying around.  As they get older, those backpacks are more tightly buckled down that they used to be.  Our children learn to “suck it up” and hold it in for fear of social death if they let their feelings show.

So after Special Time, this mother finds her 11 year old daughter’s grumpy mood dissolves, and out rolls a big upset.  It can be hard to know whether to go or stay when our children tell us to go away.  At least sometimes, however, it’s worth staying, and listening it out… Continue reading

Tween using mobile phone/cell phone to text. Photo by Carlssa Rogers, https://flic.kr/p/9qQCYc

When she must have a phone…

Sometimes, holding a limit on something – so long as we are pretty sure the limit is reasonable –  can open up a whole lot of feelings about other things. This is as true of our pre-adolescent and adolescent children as is is of our younger children. In fact, as young people internalise the message that they shouldn’t show their feelings, a well-held limit can provide just the opening. Here’s how it worked for one mother and her daughter: Continue reading