Craig Appel is the Executive
Director of Hand
in Hand Parenting, a nonprofit organization that uses the Parenting
by Connection approach. They say, "Our mission is to provide parents
with insights, skills, and support they need to listen to and connect with
their children in a way that allows each child to thrive. We do this
through easy-to-access support, classes, and literature. We offer vital
information to help parents deal with issues from children biting and kids'
temper tantrums to learning issues and bullying on playgrounds and in
"I started to see that helping parents and changing the
dynamic in the family and how children are raised is a huge leverage point
for changing the world. Raising empathic children... has huge butterfly
rippling effects in terms of changing the world...
We model the behaviour of listening
with empathy, and that is how we help them grow into social and emotionally
We want to hear about you, your program and the role of
empathy in the program?
is new director since four months, has 4 children. Previously worked in
started to see that helping parents and changing the dynamic in the
family and how children are raised is a huge leverage point for changing
the world. Raising empathic children, who are respected and listen to,
and have a new definition and understanding what respect for each other
means, has huge butterfly rippling effects in terms of changing the
2:30 About hand in hand parenting. Connection is the critical piece in
helping children thrive and relieving small and big traumas.
We model the behaviour of listening with empathy, and that is how we
have seen to help them grow into social and emotionally intelligent
3:30 Work in environmental field is adversarial. The solutions with
humans is coming together and being able to hear each other. Employers
are looking for people that can collaborate.
5:00 I see in hand and hand parenting you talk a lot
about listening and connection and those seem to be real core values?
lot of science in the last 15 to 20 years emphasizes the importance of
connection and emotional intelligence. Attachment theory is pretty well
Hand and hand parenting has 5 tools for creating attachment with your
We are teaching and helping parents go through the process of listening
in those trying moments with love and affection and that really starts
with empathy. To understand what is your child going trough in those
moments and how do you put yourself in their shoes. When they are crying
they are asking for help.
The tools are
1. Stay listening. A lot of the tantrums come when you
set boundaries. No you can't have cupcakes before dinner.
2. Special time. Time when they are in charge.
3. Play Listening. Diffuse conflict with laughter.
Laughter releases tension.
4. Listening Partnerships. Allowing parents to talk and
listen to each other. A mutual listening. Parents need a listening
13:15: The idea of empathy in Parenting by Connection really starts with
the fact that parenting is hard and we all know that every parent is
finding it difficult. There is no parent who has it great all the time
and we understand that. Our job is not to tell you how to do that but to
listen to what you are going through with a supportive ear, so that you
can start to figure out, 'No I don't want to do it that way. Maybe there
are some other ways that I can do this.?"
18:00 That's one of the roots of empathy that we are showing them by our
behaviour that what they are going through is what is happening. We are
validating, their experience as the most important thing.
19:00 How to you do reciprocal empathy?
That comes in the parents listening partnerships, were we really focus.
But with children, where they are developmentally, depends on the age.
At a young age, it's not processing feelings with your child. Because
that is why you need a grownup to listen to you. Our job is not to put
that on the kids but to be there for them. But then we need someone to
As children move to their teens, you are moving from a manager to a
collaborator. And hopefully the behaviour you have been modeling when
they were little, they are able to just pick up on how you listen
because, that is how you have been listening to them.
do you keep your attention without offering advice, just by that
connection and warmth with the person you are actually listening to.
22:00 How do you set up a Listening Partnership?
We have 70 certified instructors around the world. This is a global
activity. We have in person classes where an instructor builds the
feeling of trust. Starting with explaining to people how we want you to
listen in this atmosphere, which is not immediately offering advice. But
literally listening as people so that we can build the safe space and do
not feel judged.
Parents share their own experiences as children and moments when they
felt they were bad parents. And nobody is judging them.
In 2013 also starting online groups. Parents starter class. Six week
Have specific books on different topics. i.e. How to get kids to eat or
2014 We have 5,000 people doing this. It is growing as the science and
information about the value of social emotional intelligence spreads.
26:00 I've noticed on your website you are not so
explicit about empathy, you are very explicit about listening and
connection. I think implicitly it is core to what you are doing but it
hasn't been as explicit? I was wondering about that.
Most of what we do is built on that science of connection and
attachments and how important that is for children. I think you are
right. It is implicit and I think it is at the core of what we do. When
you are listening to this child, what your are doing is, you are not
looking at their actions though our frame, which is. 'Oh my god they are
loud, Oh my god it's scary. Oh my god they are going to hurt
themselves. 'Oh my god people are watching.' All that is our
frame, so what we are really teaching is how do you at least for a short
time put yourself in their shoes. So we help you understand what they
are going through so that it's easier to listen in those moments.
So that empathy among parents too, those listening partnerships we
really emphasize that you are not judging people and that you are
not correcting them. You are just being the vessel for them to express
what they need to express. Because you know how that feels and you know
you also need that. I think the empathy is basically implicit in
that listening relationship as well.