I'm a mum to two children and live in the rainforest outskirts of Brisbane, Australia. When my eldest was born in 2010, I did not anticipate was how much being a parent would set me on the path for an intense period of personal growth….continuing to this day! Being a yoga instructor, and having had an interest in spirituality from a young age, I thought I was quite 'aware' of my mind and who I was. Hmmm. Nothing presses my buttons or brings those long forgotten feelings to the surface like being a parent!
I am so fortunate to have read about Parenting by Connection and Aware Parenting when I first became a mum. The ideas in these approaches really resonated with me, and have helped me understand why I am so full of feelings, and to accept that this is okay. I’m not alone in feeling like parenting is the hardest job on earth! And I’m not alone in feeling the overwhelming love and joy and wonder either. Wow.
The recognition that our children are full of feelings too, and learning how to help them release their tense feelings is what has made the biggest impact on my parenting. And more importantly, knowing that if I support my children to feel their feelings fully, I can help them heal from past hurts and experiences that have been traumatic. Listening to feelings is what is transforming me, and my relationship with my children.
I’m really excited and passionate about this! We are ushering in a new paradigm in the way we interact with our children, and with each other. This new way is trusting that our children are inherently good, they naturally want to cooperate, be kind and contribute. We all do! However, feelings of disconnection can get in the way of expressing our true nature.
I love learning about the brain science and interpersonal biology that helps me understand how our emotions work, and how to heal the feelings of disconnection we experience. This information is so empowering. I wish every parent knew it, and was supported to put this knowledge into action.
So that’s why I’m here, and you are reading this. I have followed my heart, and am offering what I have learnt to you. Of course I don't have all the answers, and I will always be learning, but what I do know is this way of parenting has made my life as a mum so much easier. It has transformed my understanding of how our emotions work, and given me practical tools to support both my family, and myself, during the inevitable ups and downs of life.
That's why I decided to become a certified Parenting by Connection Instructor, though Hand in Hand Parenting in 2013, and an accredited Aware Parenting Instructor in 2016 through the Aware Parenting Institute. I also have a PhD in Public Health (2007) and have worked with small groups of adults for the last 10 years. My other passion is bringing yoga to children and families and I have been teaching since 2009.
I love seeing a fellow parent's face light up with understanding as they find a way to be with their children that is so nurturing and connecting. I love seeing the weight lift from their shoulders as they rediscover the light heartedness, and the fun, in parenting! And I love seeing children flourish and grow, and their resilience build, with this vital sense of connection to their parents restored and nurtured.
About Parenting by Connection
Parenting by Connection is a parenting approach that offers valuable support for parents, and nurtures heart to heart connections within families. It was developed by Patty Wipfler, founder of Hand in Hand Parenting and the approach is well anchored in research, offers easy to absorb information on how children's emotions work, as well as specific, practical and effective tools to foster a deeper connection within your family.
The fundamental idea behind Parenting by Connection is that children are inherently good. When your child is feeling connected to you, your child knows how to love, to play, to be cooperative and be good company. When your child is not this way, their behaviour is a signal for help, a call for reconnection. Not something to be punished.
The cornerstone of Parenting by Connection is listening. When we can look beyond the "bad behaviour" and get to the feelings that are driving this behaviour in the first place, we can help our children get their thinking back on track, to reconnect with us and to their inherently good and loving selves. Parenting by Connection offers four tools we can use when listening to our children; Special Time (one on one time spent with your child where they decide what you do), Playlistening (playing in a way that makes your child feel powerful and in charge, reversing the usual roles), Setting Limits (using warmth and closeness and listening to the upset that the limit brings), and Staylistening (where we stay and listen, offering our warmth and love, when our child is upset).
You need someone to listen to you too! Our children's behaviour can often cause us to become quite upset, and we need somewhere to offload this tension in a safe space, so as not to take it out on our children. The Parenting by Connection approach acknowledges how hard it can be to listen to our children without support, and offers two parent to parent listening tools; a Listening Partnership, where two parents listen to each other in a specific way, and support each other to work through parenting struggles; and a Parent Support Group, in which a group of parents meet to talk about what matters to them most on their parenting journey. Both of these tools allow us parents some time out to reflect on our parenting and clear our thinking.We gain support from hearing others struggles and insights as well as sharing our own thoughts and being listened to in a supportive way.
About Aware Parenting
Aware Parenting was developed by Aletha Solter, PhD. This approach provides parents with the knowledge and skills to form a lasting, deep connection with their children. Understanding crying and tantrums as natural healing mechanisms in children, and using connection instead of punishment when disciplining, are central to this approach.
As Aletha writes in her book The Aware Baby, "This approach I call "Aware Parenting", does not involve quick solutions or simplistic methods. Instead it represents an entirely new way of being with babies based on trust, empathy and respect. It describes how to form a deep emotional connection to your baby, and how to help your baby stay connected to her true self and grow up as a whole human being. Aware Parenting is comprised of three basic aspects: attachement-style parenting, non-punitive discipline, and acceptance of emotional release." ~ The Aware Baby, page 4.
Aletha has written several books including The Aware Baby, Helping Young Children Flourish, Tears and Tantrums, Attachment Play, and Raising Drug Free Kids.
"Being intentional as a parent is a good place to begin. No book or professional can offer the right answers for each possible situation that can arise in the day-to-day life with our children. Instead of depending on techniques alone, parents can learn ways of being with their children that promote the development of empathy and compassionate understanding."
Dan Seigel & Mary Hartzell, Parenting from the Inside Out.