Hand in Hand Approach

Using the Hand in Hand Listening Tools in childcare settings.

Hand in Hand is a connection-based approach to parenting and working with children (see www.handinhandparenting.org). Hand in Hand Parenting was founded in 1989 in the US and now has many instructors in countries all over the world. The founder of Hand in Hand, Patty Wipfler, set up and ran a pre-school using the Hand in Hand ethos and tools, and the organisation has decades of experience in supporting parents and people who work with children. At the Secret Garden we have been using the Hand in Hand approach in our work with pre-school children since 2015, and have experienced great outcomes for children, staff and parents.

Hand in Hand uses 5 simple and effective listening tools based on listening to children, which can help:

  • Build stronger and closer relationships with the children in your care
  • Increase cooperation
  • Work with separation anxiety and clinginess
  • Provide effective tools and strategies for working with aggression and challenging behaviour
  • Give clear guidelines for setting warm and effective limits
  • Develop connection based strategies in areas where there are commonly tensions, such as sharing and “saying sorry”
  • Build networks of support for the adults who are caring for children,

“…The more I use the approach the more confident I become in its suitability for application in a pre-school setting, with concrete positive results including building trust between children, practitioners, and parents, and improving my capacity to respond to the individual needs of children in a consistently kind and clear way.” 
Early Years Practitioner



A series of evening workshops will be facilitated by Louise Durrant, a certified instructor of Hand in Hand Parenting (you can read Louise’s story on the Hand in Hand website here) who is also Training Facilitator  at Secret Garden. The topic sessions will be limited to around 6 places so that we can work together in a small group, with plenty of opportunity to ask questions, reflect on individual practice and participate in listening support groups. 

The 2020 Mini Series

We shall be running three mini series this year, in Jan/Feb, April/May and in Aug/Sept each one consisting of an Introduction Session and two Topic Sessions. Participants will have to attend an Intro Session before they can attend a Topic. Once you have attended an intro session you may book for as many topic sessions as you like, and you don’t have to repeat the intro session if you choose topics from a different mini series. Discount will be available for those who book multiple sessions. 

Contact the office for further information and booking:




Mini Series 3 - Mondays in August/September

INTRODUCTION: The Connection Framework – Listening to Children’s Feelings 

Monday 24th August 6-8pm, cost £30. (ONLINE)

This session will be an introduction to Hand in Hand’s connection framework as a basis for a transformative approach to childcare. We will look at the importance of listening to children’s feelings and learn how to do this in practice. We will look at some of the practical ways that this approach can be immediately effective in building better relationships and overcomingcommon challenges in childcare settings


TOPIC: Separation Anxiety – Listening to support children through separation difficulties

Monday 31st August 6-9pm, cost £45 (ONLINE)

In this session we will explore how to work through children’s separation difficulties using the Hand in Hand listening approach, and see how this can have a positive impact on the children’s levels of confidence and wellbeing. Our focus will be on using the Hand in Hand tool of Staylistening as part of a step by step strategy for handling separation upsets. You’ll hear about how we’ve used this approach successfully at the Secret Garden: we love how the Hand in Hand approach to separation anxiety can turn something difficult into something positive.  


TOPIC: Biting, Hitting, Pushing… A connection-based approach to dealing with challenging behaviour

Monday 14th September 6-9pm, cost £45 (ONLINE)

Through the connection framework of Hand in Hand, we will deepen our understanding of challenging and aggressive behaviour, and will look at how to support a child who is behaving aggressively whilst keeping others safe. We will learn how to use the Hand in Hand tool Setting Limits to set limits warmly and effectively and to create a safe environment for the release of difficult emotions, helping to bring a child who is off-track back in to balance. This is a compassionate approach that sees children as inherently good. When faced by difficult behaviour we need neither ignore, threaten or punish, but can instead give our good attention and care to holding a warm limit that stops problematic behaviour and restores good feelings. As always, connection is key.