Because I was a single mum in my daughters earlier years I became in her words “Mummydaddy” I was the challenge and the support in her daily life, I was overworking to support us as the sole supporter and tensions ran high. I was determined relationship with my daughter would not be ruined by the challenges of life and I spent many hours researching different models of parenting. One that stood out was Hand In Hand Parenting. I followed Peace and Parenting for inspiration so now I am very happy to be able to ask some more in-depth questions to founder Michelle Carlson.

Hi Michelle, welcome to No Mum Is An Island. I am a great believer that no mum (or dad) should have to do everything herself, we can’t possibly know it all, and we need all the support we can get, there is a wealth of information out there to help us upgrade our parenting experience, to make our lives easier and this website is a hub for just that! I have lived in Ibiza for the last 9 years which has a strong connection to LA where you live, lots of like minded parents but not everyone is aware of Hand in Hand parenting so we are excited to find out more.

You are an advocate for Hand in Hand Parenting can you tell me exactly what this means to you?

Hand in Hand Parenting is an approach to parenting based in connection and Brain Science. The idea is that the more connected our children are to us the easier it is to parent and to live in a family together. Kids need to feel connected to their caretakers and when they do their brain functions more fully allowing them to think well. Children can make the best decisions. This method teaches 5 easy tools that allow parents to forge deep connections with their children through everyday activities. Those tools are: Special Time, Staylistening, Playlistening, Setting Limits and Listening Partnerships. I have been trained in those tools and teach them to parents all over the world so they can have more peaceful households. These tools are for kids from 0-18 and have changed my life tremendously.

Hand in Hand parenting Michelle Carlison

In a blog you said something that really struck me and made me reach out to you for this interview, “If we fail to recognise our transgressions then they will eat us alive, making it easier to to repeat our patterns, I implore you to talk about the time you screamed at your child or the demeaning things you said out of anger and frustration because this is the honest truth in parenting” I love this and I am first to share my awful parenting moments and people are always really shocked as I am so conscious in my parenting style but I also have a limit and the minute I snap it is extra disappointing. What advice can you share with parents that can help them be openly honest about these moments both for themselves and for the emotional awareness of other parents they are talking with?

I think this is the way we keep from making our mistakes over and over again. If we admit them, speak them aloud and have to come to terms with the way we have behaved, somehow that is accountability. It’s difficult to admit our shortcomings and wrongdoings. For me especially. I am a coach and helping other parents, but I think why people gravitate toward me, is that I admit I am wrong, and still talk about the time I yelled when I shouldn’t have and knew better and when I do so others are more apt to share their experiences too. When we admit these things to our fellow parents it makes the mistake real. We more have the ability to let it go, learn from it and think twice next time When we hid our behavior, pretend it didn’t happen and justify we are more likely to do it again. No parent is perfect, and we all yell or shame when we shouldn’t. It is those transgressions that allow our growth and movement into more enlightened parenting.

Many parents use punishment and reward as their two most powerful tools for parenting yet you are championing eliminating both of these techniques. Can you explain the downfall of these tools and share alternative tools that will make parents feel heard and able to handle challenging situations.

Punishments and rewards are deeply rooted in our global society. You are either rewarded for doing the right thing or punished for doing wrong Every action is judged and evaluated and we parents are the jury. Deciding which crimes receive which punishment or how to reward enough to encourage “good” behavior”. The problem is that these things don’t work, especially over time. We don’t want kids to behave because they are being threatened to do so, we want them to chose to do the right thing because it is the right thing to do. If we work from the idea of connection then the children will be more endeared to us, and want to follow our lead. When we rely on punishments our kids will tend to rest us, and not learn to trust their own inner moral compass. If we are telling them what is right and wrong how will they determine those things on their own. The other piece is that children will make mistakes, just as we do, and they should be allowed those mistakes without shame. Sure we can “teach” right from wrong but we do so my modeling good moral behavior.

Kids have big emotions and can be very difficult to be around all the time, the most frustrating thing of all is that it is often our reaction to them that perpetuates their worse moments. You previously quoted that “It has been said that 80% of what children learn is what is modeled to them. “ What advice can you offer to parents to support them as adults to learn to self regulate?

Such a good question. The modeling thing is spot on. So if we want self regulated individuals who are calm and well adjusted we have to “be” this sort of person. We cannot ask our children to be someone we are not, because we know they mimic us in every way. . Staying calm through big emotional upheaval is exactly what our kids are looking for us to do. We must take the high road Bet self regulated and still through tumultuous waters. That is what is so difficult. Likely our parents did not operate in this way, and if modeling is the teacher, we were likely modeled things that aren’t best practice. In essence, we have to re-teach ourselves how to parent, as not to parent like our parents. I am sure there are some amazing things our folks did, and we take those things with us and leave the rest to be reworked. Our parents and us for that matter are all just doing the best we can. It’s not an easy task being a caretaker.

Looking at modelling behaviour, when we flip our lids, and do not self regulate (which I think happens to most of us) is it OK to explain to our kids that we ourselves did not self regulate and if yes do you have any guidance on how we can do this in a way our kids can understand from and what are the benefits of us being honest about this?

Yes! This is a great way to organically apologize and teach apologies. We are just honest. We tell them the truth. I like to say: I am so sorry I didn’t handle that situation like I should have. I wish I would have remained calm. I am sorry I became so angry. That’s it, its all we need to say. We do not need to justify or explain why we did what we did, because then the apology is not an apology but an excuse as to why we behaved a certain way.

Connected kids listen more to their parents, which is what all parents seem to want, can you share the most effective connection techniques and how often they should be repeated.

The 5 tools for Hand in Hand Parenting are my go to connection pieces. Special Time daily with my kids, empathy (staylisten), play, setting limits with love and kindness and more empathy and taking care of myself. Study, learn and commit to a different way. Read all about parenting connectively. Get rid of punishments, threats, bribes and the like.

On your website it says that you believe listening partnerships are the cornerstone to moving through difficulties, can you explain what this means in more detail?

It’s one of the tools of HIH parenting We find a partner who is also practicing this method and we exchange listening time with them on a weekly basis. We have our parent tantrums and complain, we let it all out so we can come to our parenting more connected. It gives us an outlet with not advice, judgment or shame.

Other than your Instagram account which has some really amazing advice and your blog what resources are available for parents who want to learn more about this style of parenting?

I am also on Facebook Peace and Parenting and twitter as well.

Finally, what is your number one most important thing when it comes to raising your child.

Come with love when you want to come with correction. Use connection. If a child is acting out, give them a hug instead or a punishment and see what happens. Also remember you are not alone, we are all here struggling along with you every day. Your child’s tantrums and upsets are totally normal.

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