Listening to Children Through Play Newsletter November 2014 - What's Up and What's On in Parenting by Connection. Christmas, disappointments and laughing away fears. Plus courses and resources.  So our messages don't get caught in your spam filter
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What's Up and What's On: Parenting by Connection Newsletter
Madeleine Scott Winter, smiling!
Happy November!  In this country we are heading into the "silly season", and things are starting to "hot up" - in more ways than the weather.  I've been thinking about the difference between Presents and Presence.  There is so much pressure to put a lot of attention on "presents", but maybe what our children really need is our presence - especially at this busy time of the year.

Plus links to some free resources to help your parenting, and groups you can attend by phone.
Children need pesence more than presents.
What do Children Really Need?
I can’t believe that the shops started putting up Christmas decorations and playing Christmas carols at least a month ago.  I always feel that it has come around too soon.  In this country, also, Christmas coincides with the end of the working year and summer holidays.  It is often an intense time, even if you don't celebrate Christmas. Everything just seems to wind up into a big frenzy.
The truth is, despite how eagerly our children look forward to all those presents, or feel that they will miss out because the family finances can't stretch that far or your family does not celebrate at this time of year, it is your presence that makes the real difference to them.  More than anything else, children need a sense of being “seen”, heard and understood.  They need a sense that we are on their side.  When we can regularly fill up their “cup of connection”, children’s capacity to be reasonable, flexible, generous, co-operative, get along with their siblings and relatives, share, and enjoy life is so much greater. All things which will make the end of year and Christmas period go well! 

Special Time is a great way to help children through busy periods when there are high expectations, excitement, busyness, lots of social interaction.  So put on the timer, announce "This is Special Time!" and ask them what they want to do.  I promise, a few minutes every now and again will make for a good "silly season" rather than a difficult one.

And when disappointments arise, despite your best efforts?   Here is a story one mother from one of my classes told me early this year.  It's a lovely example of how she used Staylistening to offer her nephew her presence, at a time when presents were not what he really needed.
boy singingWhat did you get for Christmas? Disappointed!
I spent last Christmas with my brother’s family.  I like to take the trouble to give people the right gift, and I had decided on a set of special pencils for my 8 year old nephew, Richard, who is a marvellous drawer.  I had gone to a specialist art store to buy them, driving through a really bad storm, only to find that the store had got flooded, and I had to return another time to purchase them.
On Christmas day we all assembled in the morning to open presents.  His brother, David, was delighted with the present I had given him, a skimboard, since they were about to head off on a beach holiday.  But when it got to Richard, he looked at my present doubtfully, opened it, and though I could see that he was trying to be polite, he was really disappointed.  Not long afterwards he disappeared.
I went to find him.  He was shut in his room on his own and he would not let me in when I knocked.  I sat down outside and said “I’m just going to stay here.  I don’t want to leave you alone.”  He said “I don’t care about you.  Christmas is stupid anyway!”
I figured that he was disappointed about the pencils, and I had to suppress my irritation – I had gone to a fair bit of trouble to get those pencils for him!  And he had got so much over the last few days, and some children got nothing.
But I remembered that Christmas can be pretty intense – everyone busy and distracted, lots of people around and things going on, high expectations of a “special” day, but also lots of requirements to “behave well”.  And I’m not sure that getting lots of presents is actually all that easy on children – they often end up looking a bit overwhelmed.  Looked at this way, Christmas time might just be one big opportunity to be disappointed!
So I “put a lid on” my feelings, held my tongue, and decided to listen to him. Read more
Specials and stuff for free!
 Have you checked out the Hand in Hand Parenting web site recently?
Here's some of the help you can find there for free: 

To Read:  This is one of my favourite articles, which might help you find your way through your child's "wants" and "needs" over the next few weeks.  Hand in Hand Parenting founder, Patty Wipfler writes:
"A child can use wanting a turn or wanting more of something as a valve to let out lots of stored, outdated longings that keep him from feeling fully pleased with you and with life. You can give warm eye contact and loving touch, knowing that you and your love are pouring into some needy places in his experience. His feelings will be strong, in fact, the sweeter you sound, the bigger his cry will become. The healing process is full-throated when it’s going well!

To Listen: every month or so, Hand in Hand Parenting record a teleseminar on popular parenting topics.  “Using Laughter to Overcome Fear” is currently on the web site - for a limited time only, so if you are interested, listen soon.  Dr. Larry Cohen joins Patty Wipfler to discuss childhood fears and how to combat them 

Coming Up

GOT QUESTIONS? FREE Q&A PHONE CALL. Would you like to know more about the Parenting by Connection approach?  Have you been wondering how to make the Listening Tools work in your household?  Do you have questions you would like to ask?  Join me in this monthly Parenting by Connection group call.
PARENT RESOURCE GROUP (PHONE BASED)Meet with me and a small group of parents to give and get support as you tell your story and think through parenting challenges.   
WONDERING HOW TO APPLY THIS IN YOUR FAMILY? Contact Madeleine to discuss a one-on-one consultation.
Please keep in touch!  I'd love to have you with us for one of these groups, but feel free to check out our Facebook page, or email us with your stories and questions.

And please, feel free to forward this email to anyone you think might be interested.  It might help their "silly season" more joyous.

Madeleine Scott Winter
Listening to Children Through Play
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