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Listen: Five Simple Tools to Meet Your Everyday Parenting Challenges

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Listen introduces parents to five simple, practical skills even the most harried parent can use. These tools will help parents strengthen their connection with their child and help build their child's intelligence, cooperation, and ability to learn as they grow. The book delivers detailed information accompanied by more than one hundred real-life stories from parents who've used this approach to address the root causes of their child's difficult behaviors.

Five surprising things parents will

- You don't have to reward or punish willful children to get them to cooperate.
- Aggressive kids are frightened kids, and there are simple tools to ease their fear so they don't need to lash out.
- Your willingness to just listen to crying or tantrums often is enough to heal a child's fears and hurts.
- Safe play during which your kid becomes the boss can reveal his hidden feelings-- and heal them too.
- Parents who regularly listen to one another's struggles, without judging or advising, often clear so much toxic emotion that their children benefit greatly.

356 pages, Paperback

First published August 1, 2016

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Patty Wipfler

27 books14 followers

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5 stars
170 (55%)
4 stars
92 (29%)
3 stars
34 (11%)
2 stars
10 (3%)
1 star
2 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 45 reviews
Profile Image for Jenn.
207 reviews
March 22, 2019
Similar strategies to other peaceful/positive parenting guides out there (special time, setting limits, listening, connection as key) and for that alone I’d consider this more a 4 star. However, the (MANY) examples given felt super Pollyanna at times (“and then it all got better after that one big time!”) which got annoying. Really had to skim past the multiple references to “maybe your child’s -difficult labor/birth/separation in the hospital as an infant- is the root of your child’s fear of ____ in this moment, so just use some playlistening and staylistening a few times to get them to start processing this repressed fear”. But that said... the general principals are good: listen to your heart/ gut as a parent, listen to your child (even when it’s through big uncomfortable feelings and outbursts), and find a listening partnership to get support to keep you going when parenting gets hard.
Profile Image for Julianne.
27 reviews1 follower
August 18, 2016
This book is everything I was hoping it would be. I've wanted to see one resource that held all the foundations of Patty Wipfler's unique way of looking at the relationship between parents and their children, and this is it. Clear, warm, and highly readable "Listen" shares dozens and dozens of real-life examples of how to how parents around the world are using these simple tools to transform their experience of parenting and the relationships that are possible with their children, no matter what obstacles seem to interfere.

Don't miss this original yet useful book.
Profile Image for Rachel Barclay.
51 reviews3 followers
July 27, 2018
It's been two weeks since implementing the tools in this book and I have seen a wonderful change in my 3.5 year old. Her mood, confidence, and ability to transition has been wonderful - and when there are bumps in the road we have clear tools to deal with it. We were already gentle/respectful parents, but looking back after reading this book, I see that we were disorganized and were not being consistent and clear for her sake. With these tools we are much more organized and capable.
Profile Image for Hayley Peebles.
27 reviews1 follower
February 5, 2022
I thought this book was decent for a parenting bookZ I thought some premises were far fetched, like a traumatic birth that your child is trying to release feelings from when he’s 10. But I do think the main points about listening to our children, playing with our kids, and connecting with them really will make a difference in their behavior. I am excited to try some of these concepts with more intentionality with my kids.
Profile Image for Diana.
1,735 reviews63 followers
October 30, 2021
I really liked this in the beginning AND then there were dozens (over a hundred?) stories of how these tools helped out other parents and they just got so pretentious and annoying. WHO had time to sit with a kid for 90 minutes while they throw a fit because, miraculously, at the end of all that they will be "healed"?? MAYBE parents with only one kid but still...even then I usually had THINGS TO DO. Then there were the stories about how the parent sat with their kid, I swear it was 10 times for an hour each time in order to get their kid to put the kid's foot in the lap of a new babysitter. WHAT babysitter is going to stand for that?? Even being paid I would NOT have been patient for 10 hours of that before even being left with a kid. I don't know, they stories were almost laughable at a certain point.
27 reviews1 follower
May 15, 2023
This is one of the very best parenting books I have ever read! Highly recommend for the parent who strives to connect with their child and truly help them with their meltdowns and general feelings.
Profile Image for Erin.
111 reviews
January 28, 2019
Took me reading this a second time around years later after a lot of my own inner work to be able to really see and feel the deep truth in this book. The multitude of stories of using Hand in Hand parenting tools really help you hone in on how emotionally intelligent, emotionally regulated, emotionally connected and empathetic parenting feels. This one is a keeper in my collection of self-help/parenting books.
Profile Image for Lisa.
173 reviews1 follower
October 30, 2017
I’ve read a lot of Hand in Hand articles and blog posts in the past, but having it all put together in a book was so helpful. The ideas about crying as a release instead trying to stop it as quickly as possible is interesting food for thought.
3 reviews
October 18, 2021
The. Best. Parenting. Book.. Ever.

And trust me, I've read them all. Or most. A heck of a lot of them anyway. And this one is the very best. Combines the science with the TOOLS! Oh my, it's dreamy. Please read it. Our future depends on it.
3 reviews1 follower
August 18, 2016
Such a wonderful collection of easy, practical, flexible tools for parents. The stories and examples offered for each of the tools give the real world applications. SO HELPFUL!
Profile Image for Jessica.
1,203 reviews123 followers
February 4, 2021
If you follow my reviews, you probably know that I read a LOT of parenting books. The philosophies and strategies they present have had varying levels of helpfulness in my own parenting. This one, though, is the first one that has had a huge, immediate impact on our family. My frustrations with other books have often boiled down to their assumptions that parents don't bother to take the time to ask kids why they're acting out and move straight to punishing them. However, it's abundantly clear that my son has no idea why he acts out the way he does and has nothing to say about it no matter how much space he's given to talk. I was worried going into this book that it was going to be more of the same, but it was quite the opposite. Wipfler and Schore have boiled down the best parts of other books I've read into their most practical, directly applicable parts and explained exactly what to do to help your child feel safe, connected, and able to release their emotions in a healthy way without having to psychoanalyze their actions. They also include an entire section of stories from real parents using the tools, which is always the best part of any parenting book, in my opinion.

In our family, we'd worked hard to give our older son structure and consistency, but getting him to and from school every day was still an epic battle that left me lying awake at night anxious about the next morning. Once we started implementing Special Time every single morning (and making sure we started everything else early enough not to shortchange that time) he became a different kid, happy to joke around and make believe all the way out the door and on the car ride to school. We also added Special Time to his after-school routine (side note: I can't recommend the Brili app highly enough) and he was suddenly happy to bring his belongings inside from the car and quickly put everything away. This book gave me permission to stop lecturing him, which he wasn't listening to anyway, and the tools to get him back on track as quickly as possible.

I'm giving this book 5 stars because of its tangible positive effects on our family, but I do have a few critiques. Although the authors use the language of diversity and inclusion, I didn't see that explicitly reflected in the stories they chose. Whenever couples were mentioned, they always seemed to be a man and a woman. There was only one story that I can recall in the whole book where a parent explicitly mentioned their race. The introductory chapter uses the gendered language of "mothers and fathers" repeatedly, which I think is intended to be more inclusive of men, but by not using the broader term "parents" they exclude those outside the gender binary.

Additionally, although they do sometimes mention adults — usually daycare teachers — needing to attend to other children, in many of the stories parents literally spend more than an hour helping their child work through an emotion. If my child is having an outburst because we absolutely have to leave the park now, then I don't have an hour and a half to deal with his feelings before making him get in the car, and if his feelings manifest not by a big cry (like almost all the children in these stories) but in running away, ignoring me, and continuing to play, then the formula "propose, listen, propose, listen" doesn't work. The authors also make a big assumption that the parent is able-bodied enough, and the child small enough, for roughhousing and setting limits where the parent is always in control and able to rein in a child's aggressive impulses. A lot of stories involve gently putting a hand on a child's stomach to keep them from hitting another child and that immediately resulting in the child crying and clinging to the parent, releasing their fear in a cathartic cry; there weren't any stories of a child who was no-holds-barred kicking, punching, biting, and scratching the parent in a way the parent couldn't easily deflect while also staying physically close.

So while I wanted more out of the book, I can't deny that the strategies they provide, and the many examples of ways to implement them, have had an incredibly positive impact on my son and on our family. This is a book that I will be recommending to as many parents as I can!
Profile Image for Kat.
89 reviews
September 19, 2021
I was struggling with this book right from almost the beginning but thought to give it a chance. I have listened to many gentle parenting books, and although this book is about being a gentle parent, the whole method felt a bit passive aggressive. There aren't any sources of studies regarding the method that is used in each case and I am an evidence - based fan. Especially when it comes to eating, oversimplifying the reason that kids can be a picky eater and actually forcing them (gently, but still forcing them) to eat the "healthy" eggs and beans is already problematic. Categorising food as healthy and unhealthy and insisting for a kid to eat that healthy food is also problematic. I am a Registered Dietitian and I pay a lot of attention on how (parenting) books deal with food matters. I pretty much stopped listening after that. Also, it heavily depends on specific tools and outcomes, like having a listening partner (for many parents that's impossible for various reasons) and the fact that the child will cry and let the frustration out after holding a limit, resulting in doing what the parent would like him to do afterwards. It really doesn't always work this way. I enjoyed much more the books by Sarah Ockwell-Smith and Faber. Regarding the narration, there are mistakes and sentences are repeated but the narrator is for the rest pleasant to listen to. Long story short :Not my cup of tea.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Jennifer Ridgway.
156 reviews14 followers
November 5, 2016
This review originally appeared on Brightly

Patty Wipfler is the founder of Hand-in-Hand Parenting, an organization focused on building the parent-child connection through authoritative parenting, or parenting with a lot of love and warmth but also reasonable limits and expectations. In Listen, her first book, co-written with Tosha Schore, she lays out five tools to help parents through the many challenges, big and small, that we face on a daily (sometimes hourly!) basis. The title of the book plays on a few of the ideas and philosophies of the book: by listening to our hearts as parents, truly listening to our children through their struggles, and creating listening partnerships with other parents, we can become better parents and help our children become emotionally intelligent, resilient, compassionate adults.

There is much to love about this book. While the book might seem long at first glance, the authors understand that parents are busy and don’t expect you to read it in one go — they actually propose which sections to read according to the amount of time you have. One of the issues I sometimes have when reading a parenting book is wondering how I can apply the advice to my own specific circumstances, but with over 100 varied examples of real parents and caregivers using the recommended tools, I was able to immediately apply them to challenges with my twins. The bottom line philosophy: The key to parenting is strengthening the bond with your child while maintaining moderate and appropriate limits. And, the authors’ tone of voice is nonjudgmental and supportive, which is important to me, as I don’t like feeling lectured to when I'm reading a parenting book.

What exactly are the five tools? I will be brief, just to whet your appetite. The first is all about “Special Time,” or creating a set, regular amount of one-on-one time with your child during which you allow them to lead what the two of you do. “Staylistening,” the second tool, is basically what it sounds like: Staying with your child when they’re upset and listening all the way through. “Setting Limits” is something that’s already familiar to most parents — setting limits that are age-appropriate and respectful to help our children develop healthily. “Playlistening” is focused on fostering your child’s confidence through natural laughter and fun. And, the last tool, “Listening Partnerships,” is all about you and learning to form partnerships with other adults, which allows you to tackle the stress that is a natural byproduct of parenting.

All in all, Listen is a practical book with five concrete tools that are easy to use in any parenting challenge.
113 reviews6 followers
September 9, 2020
Impunerea unor limite ferme pe un ton calm, afectos; O limita buna ii ofera copilului ocazia de a se elibera de tensiunea emotionala fie prin plans, fie prin ras

Ascultarea profunda a supararii - il asculti cand isi revarsa durerea, astfel se elibereaza de povara emotionala; durerea se vindeca cand cineva te asculta si iti arata ca ii pasa.

Timp special in care faci tot ce vrea copilul avand parte de toata iubirea si atentia ta, numai voi doi

Ascultare prin joc - arta prin care aduci rasul in jocurile copilului, fara sa il gadili. Rasul este un antidot puternic impotriva stresului si aduce caldura in caminul tau.

Parteneriat de ascultare - sa ai pe cineva cu care sa te descarci de frustrari si nervi; cineva sa te asculte atunci cand simti nevoia sa te eliberezi de tensiune
Profile Image for Jessi.
319 reviews43 followers
April 5, 2022
This book is an absolutely paradigm shifter for parenting. Enhancing connection and listening to children, even in hard and BIG emotions, can allow the child to offload fear and grief so that they are no longer triggered by the things that upset them. The Hand in Hand parenting method described here is something I would have rejected as pathetic even a few years ago, but I’ve tried these methods in my hard moments and been shocked by the almost magical efficacy they bring to tough parenting situations. Listening, connection, gentleness, love. All the things WE need but so often forget to give our kids. This is how we model effective communication and heal the hurts our children may have but not know how to release.
Profile Image for Elaine Abrol.
Author 2 books4 followers
June 17, 2019
A helpful book with some very interesting ideas. The concepts of 'staylistening' and 'playlistening' are vitally important for parents. Although I did not agree with every single idea I found the over-arching theme to be spot on and the authors do state that each of us will find what works best for our own children. This book was recommended to me for what we Schema Therapists do by way of 'limited reparenting' of adults who have not had their developmental needs met and fits very well with listening and validating people's experiences and feelings without judgement.
3 reviews
July 30, 2019
One of my parenting manuals. No shame. The author lists several attempts at parenting that failed miserably and gives you concrete steps for any lifestyle on how to parent through connection. I "read" listen in audiobook which made it even more powerful to hear Patty's intonations. I listened in small increments with my children in the car. It gave them an idea of what to expect and we could discuss what we thought. A must read if you are looking to change the world you see around you. It starts with little decisions and little steps.
Profile Image for Lisa.
682 reviews24 followers
December 31, 2019
The opening chapter made me cry and feel so acknowledged. I love the tools, and the listening partnership has been hugely beneficial for me (and I’ve only been doing it for a month!). That said, I do think the tone of the parent anecdotes sometimes veers into smug, and some of them made me raise an eyebrow (enough that I hesitate to recommend the book to a friend who might already wonder if this approach to parenting is too “out there”). And the book claims to speak for a diverse population of parents, but I can’t say I really felt that in the stories they chose.
Profile Image for Dori Jaffe.
11 reviews
April 25, 2018
A vitally important book about childrearing - based on an understanding of interpersonal neurobiology. The function of emotions, rupture and repair, how to be with your child's emotions that respects their tenderness and takes into account both of your needs. Best chance to raise balanced, caring children. Also a good read for those adults who, damaged by attachment trauma, want to discover what a healthy adult/child relationship looks like.
Profile Image for Heather Legge.
13 reviews
March 10, 2019
This book has literally changed the way I parent...and for the better. I wish I had this when my girls were smaller but it has still be an absolute gift in their pre teenage years. Not only has it changed my relationship with my girls, but it has given me skills for interacting with people in daily life. The entire premise of the book is active listening, which I firmly believe is a skill that everyone needs to learn.
Profile Image for Alison.
263 reviews
October 1, 2019
Listen... and listen more... I am now on my second time listening to this book. I also had checked out the print version from the library, but found the audio version, read in the author’s kind, gentle voice, to be WAY more influential. The content is excellent. I was inspired to find a listening partner, and am so glad that I did. I highly recommend the audio version of this book to all parents.
Profile Image for Balazs.
9 reviews
December 4, 2021
A bit too many examples, but the basic concept is hugely helpful. Cries and tantrums are normal ways for kids to release tension and when they "behave weird" they have not gone crazy. They just need us to listen more / give them our attention. All of this in a way that is actually doable, and the authors think of parents as humans in the process. Highly recommended - although the content could've been summarised in about half as many pages.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Kimberly.
574 reviews
July 28, 2018
To be accurate, I only had time to skim this before returning it to the library (too many books out at once!). The message is in line with other peaceful parenting books. I may prefer the whole-brain child books, but then again, I didn't read this one as in depth, so that probably isn't fair. I'm feeling burnt out on parenting books...probably should have stopped long ago.
Profile Image for Nicole Wagner.
307 reviews11 followers
August 27, 2018
One of the best and most important parenting books in existence today. It produces absolute miracles.

Parenting is raising the person your child already is, and they are not blank slates. We must trust our children, and embody the emotional intelligence we wish them to learn.

Too, we ourselves are never 'done' growing up. We all need support and love throughout life.
46 reviews
November 17, 2019
Overall, the book's aims and its advice are superb. My only criticism is that it takes so long to get there. The examples are useful but the authors could have reduced the number of examples or kept them in an annex. However, I'd wish I'd read this book earlier in my parenting. So I'd recommend it and say to readers, it is slow but keep with it. It is worth it.
Profile Image for Lara.
61 reviews
January 31, 2020
This was given to me by another mom who said, "This book has changed the way I parent." Now that I've read it, I completely agree. It's easy to fall into the patterns of the way we were raised, but this book offers another choice. Building connection with our children, getting cooperation in playful ways (no more shouting, threats, or bribes), and getting support for yourself as a parent too.
Profile Image for Laurel.
328 reviews6 followers
September 14, 2019
Special time is a great tool and concept. Listening partnerships for parents makes sense too. The book is redundant but filled with examples and stories which helps bring to life how to actually apply the principles set forth.
Profile Image for Kathy.
59 reviews
January 2, 2020
The parenting philosophy in this book is totally aligned with so much of what I believe. The authors give clear tools to use, and the example stories are super helpful for seeing the concepts in action.
Profile Image for Mihaela.
44 reviews
November 23, 2020
Pur si simplu minunata! O recomand calduros! Pune pret pe sprijinirea copiilor in depasirea momentelor dificile, dar si pe sprijinirea parintilor, care, la randul lor, au si ei momente dificile. Mi-am facut insemnari si o tin pe noptiera, aproape de mine, ca si manual. 💗
Profile Image for Lidia.
59 reviews
January 29, 2022
Similar strategies to other positive parenting books. I appreciated the focus on using humor and physical play. The example situations were a good concept (and there were tons of them), but somehow it felt like it was missing something.
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