Katharine Willsher

Hand in Hand Certified Instructor

I live in Guildford, Surrey in the UK with my husband and three children; a girl and two boys. Before becoming a parent I worked as a finance professional but with an active interest in child psychology and personal development. I attended a course in counselling at a local college and also volunteered for shift work as a ‘listener’ at my local branch of emotional support charity The Samaritans for several years. I came to understand how powerful good listening was for the mental wellbeing of both children and adults.

In 2010 we had our first child: a highly spirited baby girl with reflux. She seemed to cry through 90% of her waking hours and rarely napped. It was the most challenging time of my life, and despite all of my reading, in my mind I was totally failing at parenting. My inability to soothe her increased my anxiety, which in turn would have fuelled hers. Other parents around me had obliging babies who followed ‘Gina’ routines beautifully. I would trail behind at our meet-ups, constantly on edge and pushing the buggy with one arm whilst carrying my unsettled baby in the other.

Over time I found that our days went far better when I simply went with my daughter’s ‘flow’ and didn’t over-commit to getting out and meeting up. Both of us became less intense; her crying stopped and we became great companions. Knowledge of the Hand in Hand tools and understandings would have made a phenomenal difference to me in the early years of parenthood, not to mention through the toddler years as our daughter’s spiritedness shone through ever more.

As our son came along 21 months later, the need for control had crept back in to my parenting. I was persevering with the traditional rewards and punishments approach being advocated by several parenting experts on television, although they didn’t truly sit right with me. During one ‘naughty step’ episode with my 3 year old daughter, my 1 year old son toddled over and sat next to her calmly as she wailed. I remember feeling a pang of guilt as part of me knew that he had the better approach! But wouldn’t that mean indulging ‘naughty’ behaviour?

I was so relieved to discover Hand in Hand in 2018 when my third child was 1 and oldest, 7. Here was a concise set of connection-based tools, in support of gentler parenting. They filled in the gaps for me around Limit Setting and simply Staylistening. The biggest realisation was that it was simply my warm presence that would help my children through their tantrums (as my 1 year old son had demonstrated some years back!). Through a new understanding of emotions & brain science, I could now understand how my children’s off-track behaviour was always a call for connection and often an opportunity for them to release big feelings; instinctively healing themselves in the way they’ve always known how, since birth.

Parenting has become so much simpler thanks to Hand in Hand and our 3 children are thriving. I’m now able to make a difference to other families’ lives through my teaching of the tools.

“Katharine has opened my eyes to a new, positive way of parenting that has benefited both my nine and two year old. We have gone from a household full of shouting and tantrums to one which shows appreciation for one another, taking the time to be present and listen to one another which has made the household a much calmer and happier place to be. The tools and techniques I have learnt from Katharine have been invaluable and we will continue to use them moving forward.”

Guildford Parent, Surrey, UK

I’ll connect you with like-minded parents in my small community groups or work with me on a one-to-one basis. I will help you better connect to your children and empower you to support them as they release the buried emotions that are sending them off-track. You will come to better understand yourself and your personal triggers through the safety of Listening Time within the classes. As you adopt the tools you will feel more confident in your parenting approach, spend less time managing disruptive behaviour, and family life will become more harmonious.

In 2022 Katharine became a certified Hand in Hand Instructor. Katharine runs classes, talks, workshops and support groups; currently online. She also works with families on a one to one basis.
Connect with Katharine at Katharine@handinhandparenting.org


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