An adult sets aside a distinct period of time - from 5 minutes to an hour - during which he focuses warm, undivided attention on the child, doing whatever play the child chooses, within the limits of safety and reason. This simple tool helps foster strong parent/child connections.
Parenting by Connection is based on the following assumptions:
When children feel connected, they learn readily, love easily and become caring leaders among their peers. A healthy parent-child connection enables a child to fully access his intelligence and ability.
When children feel disconnected, one of two things happens. They either spontaneously release tension - crying, tantrums, storming (with tears and perspiration), laughing - or their behaviour goes off-track (becomes irrational or unworkable). At these times, children are signalling the need for reconnection.
When emotional stress sends parents' behaviour off track, they need the support of a listener who appreciates how much they care and how hard they try. Parents need the safety to offload feelings that interfere with their ability to guide their children with love and sensible limits that are kindly held.
When parents feel connected with their children and with other parents, they have greater success at solving problems at the heart of family and community life. Parenting becomes more fun and more rewarding.
Parenting by Connection principles include:
Our listening tools promote full respect for the minds of children and the work of parenting.
Parents and children flourish when they feel close and connected. We teach simple, effective ways to build and rebuild the parent-child connection.
Listening connects us, facilitates healing and fosters the ability to think, learn and care.
We help parents develop the skills to reach their goals. With support, and when they are ready, parents take steps to build healthy families and strong communities.
Parenting by Connection uses the following Listening Tools with children:
The adult takes the less powerful role in play. The adult notices what allows the child to laugh (without being tickled), promotes the child's laughter and encourages the child's exploration of the more powerful role. Laughter and fun build children's confidence and help the parent to feel close too.
The adult takes responsibility to stop behaviour that is hurtful or thoughtless without directing blame or hurtful actions toward the child. Or, the adult holds out a reasonable expectation, without backing down and without hurtful actions toward the child. When the child's feelings about the limit or the expectation erupt, the adult listens and stays close, because listening and closeness through the emotional storm will restore the child's ability to think clearly again.
The adult stays close to a child who is shedding emotions through crying, tantrums or trembling and raging. The adult listens and allows the child to express the feelings of hurt that have skewed his judgement. When the child is finished, he can feel the caring the adult has offered and he can relax, learn and play well again.
Parenting by Connection uses the following Listening Tools for adults:
"Parenting by Connection tools make things easier -
instead of things blowing up and turning into a big issue,
you can use Parenting by Connection to solve things."
Two parents take turns respectfully listening to the thinking, efforts and feelings of the other. No advice is given and no analysis is made by the listener. Listening Partnerships give parents the chance to learn from their experience and honour their own thoughts, feelings and goals.
A group of parents gathers, exchanges updates on their lives, and then offers respectful listening time to each member in turn. No advice is given and no analysis is made by any listener. A leader mentors parents as they learn Parenting by Connection. Parents develop a strong sense of respect for themselves and other parents and for the vital work.