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

Two teen girls lying on grass playing phones with paper cups - one talking into cup, and one listening with cup to ear.

Listening Partnerships with our Parenting Partners (and other friends)

Listening Partnerships have been my parenting saviour. They have meant that I have had somewhere to take my feelings, work through confusions, and think through my parenting challenges without fear of being judged, given “helpful” advice, or have it taken personally or brought up again by my listener.

However, it can sometimes be a challenge to find someone to form a Listening Partnership with, and it can be an option to ask a friend, relative or your parenting partner if they are interested. This may have the advantage of convenience, but there a few things to be careful about when you are setting up a Listening Partnership with someone so close to home.

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Man and Boy sit on bench with arms around shoulders https://wp.me/a5jd3o-qVm

Setting Limits on Holidays – Part 3: Stepping in

Our kids were playing happily in the pool, but suddenly things get nasty and one child is hitting another.  In Part 1, we talked about why this happens: for some reason, feelings have taken over the play and your child has lost their sense of connection.

How can you prevent this from happening, and what can you do to help your children get along with one another?

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Man delights in child in play

Setting Limits on Holiday – Part 2: Connection Plan

In Part 1 we were pool side on holiday, and three siblings were happily playing, until suddenly, without much warning, the bigger boy was pushing the younger into the pool. They have lost their sense of connection (for whatever reason) and their behaviour is now driven by difficult feelings which are not “thoughtful”, caring or workable.

For the holiday to go well, you’ll need to develop a Connection Plan. This will help keep your children in good shape, and will give you room to step in, when necessary, to set limits to help resolve unworkable behaviour. Continue reading

Woman sitting by pool with legs in water, looking away distracted

Setting Limits on Holidays – Part 1

Family holidays can be a special challenge for us parents. It’s good to spend time together. But often getting to the holiday destination can be stressful, and by definition, everyone is tired and worn out to begin with. We parents are often really, badly, in need of some down-time.  And at times like these, things don’t always go well between our children.  Happy play quickly turns to trouble.  What can you do? Continue reading

Mini toy Santa under cocktail umbrella in the sun

All the best for 2022

Dear parents, wishing you the best for this time of year.

I doubt you’ll be altogether happy – we’d be disappointed if we undertook this venture in pursuit of happiness. That may come, on occasion. But deeper is the worthiness of this work, is our integrity as we work through the barriers that get in the way of connecting with our children.

This is where we discover our own goodness in the face of a task almost impossible. And in reaching for our children, we discover the goodness of the little people we once were, and reach for ourselves, rather than leave our own little ones behind. Because we need company.

So my wish for you in this journey, over which, in the end, we don’t have much control, is company. Strong, solid, wise, generous company. Thankyou for accompanying me this year. Here’s to more company, whatever this next year brings.

~Madeleine

Christmas greeting with photo of santa under cocktail umbrella in the sun

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The materials on this page are free for reuse as long as you credit the author. See our copyright page for details. Please take note that photos may carry additional copyright conditions.
©2021 by Madeleine Winter.
The featured image above is “Christmas in the Heat” by Ivan Diaz
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Starting School Part 2: How to Unpack the Backpack

My daughter’s first day of school was one of the hardest days of my life.  Although we had  some times in the past when separating from one another had been full of feeKindergarten girl sitting on mat in classrooom looks at the camera. She looks happy.lings, we  worked through them together, and things, up to then, had been pretty smooth.  Cheerful up to that point, on this day she started to wail and cling to me as she lined up at the doorstep of the classroom.

The teacher looked increasingly alarmed, and then more and more annoyed with me.  Other children were beginning to waver in their confidence, considering joining my daughter in a serious cry.  Heartbreaking as it was, it just was not going to work for me to stay.  I walked away, my nerve ends on fire.  Over time it got easier, but I had to work hard at it. Continue reading

Starting School Part 1 – How to Pack the Backpack

Young boy walks along path with big red backpack

Starting school – for the first time, or at a new school, or even after the long summer break, can be a challenge for both our children and ourselves. We carefully pack their school bag with the things that will help them through their day – a nutritious lunch, a spare pair of pants and pencils. But it’s easy to forget our children carry an emotional backpack as well. Our special role, as parents and carers, is to help them pack and unpack that bag. It’s at least as important as a healthy lunch or a good night’s sleep. Continue reading

Special Time is Always about Something

Bull and close up of head with pincers.My friend and I were doing Special Time together with her 4-year-old son, Cameron, at the local park. There were a lot of bull-ants (a large and very aggressive kind of ant) on the ground.

Cameron told us that ants were very dangerous, and scary, and that we should get out of their way. Continue reading

It’s hard, and it’s not our fault

Covid-19 virus with crowns of hearts.

We need to keep a steadfast perspective: this is not our fault. What is being asked of us is necessary, but unreasonable. It is hard because of that, not because we have somehow not figured out the trick to doing it well. We are good. Our children are good. We want to come out of this holding each other close, if not physically, then emotionally. That is the most important thing. We all need to be held close.

A lot is being asked of us as parents at the moment. Managing school-at-home and work-at-home, working parents are running the risk of being “ground up in the gears” as the world of work and the world of schooling collide in the privacy of our home.

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Burning out

Mother pays attention to her child

This is fascinating. My own experience of all this is of a vague sense of displacement, discouragement, sadness, disconnection. Hard to put a finger on. Then I meet someone – today, the young GP at the local medical practice who I’ve never met before, and may not meet again.  And I feel better. We weren’t meant to be isolated from one another.

I’m not suffering trauma – illness, loss of work, serious financial stress – like so many are. But I’m suffering the loss of what was normal, predictable, finely balanced to keep me just on the right side of hopeful. 

This short news segment is worth a listen. He studies burnout, and says in the current environment, women are particularly vulnerable, as they shoulder the majority of the burden of managing work and children at home. So if you are feeling a little overwhelmed, take heart: it is overwhelming and impossible to do well enough. Its ridiculous to expect to be able to supervise young children and be employed at work at the same time in the same space. Be kind to yourselves, conscientious mothers.

https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/drive/will-i-suffer-burnout-thanks-to-covid-19/12226002