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Say Hello to... The Guilty Parent Escape Plan


Are there any parents out there who feel guilty?


Only joking: we all do. It's the one issue I see again and again in my 1:1 therapy practice, and I know it plagues parents who don't have the opportunity to access therapy, too.



Does this resonate?


⚡️You feel an enormous pressure to get things "right" as a parent and sense other parents are doing a better job.


⚡️You constantly second-guess how you handle things and feel confused by the conflicting parenting information you read.


⚡️You worry about the long-term impact on their child when you "mess up".


⚡️You find yourself emotionally triggered by tour kids, then feel guilty when you lose your temper or make rash decisions.


⚡️You’re worried you’re turning into your own mum or dad, despite actively trying to break intergenerational parenting patterns.


⚡️You’re overwhelmed, lacking in support and your own needs and identity are lost and neglected.


⚡️And you blame yourself for not doing a “better” job.

If you recognise yourself, you're not alone. We can feel bad about almost anything as parents.



The Parent Guilt Vicious Cycle


Whilst guilt is a normal - and sometimes useful - emotion, too much guilt can be pretty toxic to us, and to our kids. We can get stuck in a vicious cycle...


💥 The more parenting strategies you try, the more guilty you feel when you struggle to use them in stressful moments because you can't think straight or lose your temper.


💥 On the other hand, if you work on your emotional regulation, you're still not confident in the "best" way to handle those stressful situations with your kids, so the self-doubt and guilt creeps in again.


💥 The harder you try to be a “good” parent by criticising yourself, the more stressed you feel, and the more this fuels the cycle - taking you further from the parent you want to be.


💥 Other factors such as a lack of self-care, pressures to be a "perfect parent", childhood triggers, and a change in our identity and values only fuel this fire.



Does this ring a bell?



Let's break these cycles


I am absolutely determined to help as many parents as possible avoid this vicious cycle. 


I have been working hard for the last year or so, piecing together the most powerful psychological techniques to create a new tool to help you:


  • Feel less guilty

  • Feel more confident in your parenting

  • Feel more like yourself again

  • Get comfy with imperfection


Sound good? So, drum roll please...



The Guilty Parent Escape Plan


It's called The Guilty Parent Escape Plan – and it does exactly what it says it does. The 6 "P Keys" to help you unlock a way of parenting that is more effortless, joyful, less guilt-ridden and overwhelming, and works for you AND your child:


🔑 Each P Key offers evidence-based information and psychological tools designed to reduce dysregulation and guilt/shame, and increase parental confidence and compassion.

🔑 AND each Key contains techniques both for us as parents, and for our children.


Everything is geared towards celebrating imperfection & relieving pressure.



How do the 6P Keys work?


For you: each Key gives you techniques to keep your own brain calm and reduce guilt and overwhelm, so you can feel more like yourself, and parent in the way you actually want to, without the pressure of having to be the “perfect parent”.


For your child: each key helps your child’s brain stay calm so they are more likely to listen and respond to the boundaries you are setting. You’ll feel more confident and less guilty about how you handle those tricky moments.


 

Let's go through how each P Key can help you, and help you parent your child.


Perspective


First up, the Perspective Key!


This Key is about properly understanding what’s happening for you - and for your child - at emotional moments. We all need this foundation before we can do anything differently.


For you:

  • Use a special framework to recognise patterns in your emotional reactions with your kids.

  • Understand how guilt turns up & how we get into a vicious circle of stress, overwhelm, & shame.

  • Use my new BALM tool to slow these reactions right down… so you can stay calmer and think more clearly... and have a better chance of parenting in the way you want to, with less to feel guilty about!


Once you can do this for yourself, you can help your child do it, too!


For your child:

  • Understand your child's brain, their Perspective and why they act the way they do.

  • Use scripts to help them feel seen & stay calmer whilst we navigate setting tough boundaries.

  • Teach emotional literacy skills for their long-term development & mental health.


Imperfection


Next up is the ImPerfection Key.


My personal favourite - see how it's imperfect because it doesn't even begin with P?!


This Key is crucial in tackling parent guilt. There are so many reasons that we are set up to strive for perfection in parenting... learning what these are can help us become more aware of what's driving our guilt.


For your child:

  • Understanding what we can influence in our parenting - and importantly, what we cannot.

  • Understanding that our relationship with our kids is actually made stronger by "ruptures and repairs" - & learning how to do this with our kids.


For you:

  • It’s about doing for ourselves what we already try our best to do for our kids – being kind & compassionate to ourselves when we make mistakes, or feel bad.

  • Being gentler to ourselves can be really hard for lots of reasons, but we absolutely can learn now.

  • And we need to - for our own mental health, for our parenting, & to teach our kids how to do it too.

  • There are no wrong turns, there’s no perfect way to handle any situation, there’s no perfect way to be a parent.


Predictability


The Predictability Key


This Key is all about predicting what situations with our kids trigger guilt, anger or overwhelm, and planning ahead to reduce these triggers.


Certain issues can trigger us based on patterns laid down in our brain wiring from our childhoods - our "buttons". Our reaction can be automatic too - we can find ourselves repeating behaviour from the past that we would rather not.


For you:

  • Understand and categorise these "buttons", and where they might come from.

  • Becoming more aware of patterns from our past can help us break unhelpful intergenerational cycles in the way we want to.

  • Acting in a preventative way can then reduce the situations that cause us to feel guilty in the first place, and also help us bring some understanding to ourselves.


For your child:

  • Use strategies that increase the level of predictability in the boundaries we set, to help them listen and learn what you are trying to teach them.

  • Everyone stays calmer, and there’s less to feel guilty about.



Playfulness


The Playfulness Key


We tend to prioritise play-time for our children but neglect it for ourselves. Obviously, being a parent often means less time to ourselves (understatement!), BUT it's also true that we sometimes forget about our own need for “play”, or deny ourselves permission for it. Is that true for you?


"Play" is about meeting our own needs in a spectrum of ways, not just traditional relaxing "self-care".


When we don't meet our own need for play, our brains are more likely to react rather than respond, and get sucked into a cycle of dysregulation, guilt, and overwhelm.


For you:

  • Understand how play affects your brain

  • Map the important dimensions of Play for you, using my ESCAPES tool.

  • Identify "tweakments" that can make Play realistic and achievable

  • Trust that allowing yourself time to play is actually good for your child, as well as for you


For your child:

  • The child Playfulness Key is not about being a "fun parent" - urgh too much pressure!

  • We look at how to use specific playful strategies to help our children's brains stay "online" and able to listen at tricky moments.



Power


The Power Key


Do you ever wonder, "who am I?" Becoming a parent can be an enormous shift in our identities. It can be a positive change, of course, but it can also be hard to navigate.

We can feel a bit lost, and that can put us on edge.


For you:

  • The Power Key is about understanding our values and our identity as a parent, but more importantly as a person.

  • Mapping out what we care about and making sure we play to our strengths.

  • Having this direction is crucial in helping our brains to feel more regulated, less guilty or overwhelmed, and more like ourselves again.


For your child:

  • For our children, the Power Key is about considering different ways to give them power so they feel calmer and more in control, particularly when we are asking them to do something.

  • This can make our life easier and mean we have fewer things to feel guilty about!


Physical Support


The Physical Support Key


It's tough isn't it. Many of us simply don't have the "village" to raise a child that we hear about.


If you're the "default parent" carrying the mental load of parenthood as well as the physical tasks, plus all the other things you have to do in your life (paid work, other caring commitments, etc), you are carrying too much for one person.


We can't do this on our own. We can't conjure up a magic village but we CAN maximise the support that we do have.


For you:

  • The Physical Support Key is about reducing the sensitivity of our threat system by ensuring our needs are met by others as much as possible. We do this in 3 ways:

  • Learning the steps of effective, healthy communication to ask for help - many of us never learnt how to do this growing up

  • Learning how to accept help and release control - without feeling guilty or like a failure

  • Identifying healthy and supportive influences in our network


For your child:

  • For our children, the Physical Support Key is about knowing when our child needs our physical support to succeed at meeting our boundaries, & to make sure we can follow through.

  • This is the part that I find most parents feel least confident about, and is a crucial step in helping you feel less guilty when setting boundaries.


What do you think?


So that's the 6P Keys and The Guilty Parent Escape Plan!


I hope that these ideas are useful to you in thinking about ways to shift the pressure of perfection in parenting.



Join the Club!


If you think you would benefit from exploring the Plan in greater depth, learning the techniques, and chatting with other parents in the same position, why not check out The Guilty Parent Club?


Changing your parenting for the better is waiting for you, and we'd love to have you join us!



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