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How to feel good enough as a parent

This month’s Enough Experiment expert, Dr Anna Colton, is a chartered clinical psychologist, who works with children, adolescents, parents and families. She teaches us how to feel good enough as parents

by Psychologies

The Enough Experiment is a digital twelve-month column at Psychologies with coach Mandy Lehto. Start anytime.

Each month, we’ll focus on a particular theme and conduct an experiment to see if we can feel better about ourselves in that aspect of our lives. Small changes add up – and I’m experimenting right alongside you.

We’ll be supported by experts via short, informative videos (about 10 minutes), and we dig deeper with questions and prompts from the monthly downloadable worksheet (about 10 minutes).

You’re encouraged to share your questions, discoveries and experiences on The Life Leap club on Facebook, where I’ll be offering support.

The real power of this experiment isn’t what happens in the videos or on the worksheets. It’s in how you implement your findings in day to day life.

Catch last month’s experiment on Imposter Syndrome at Work with Kanchan Prinsloo HERE.

I’m not a good enough parent…

When my daughter was two, I had a not-enough moment in the supermarket. She’d tossed a pack of biscuits into the shopping trolley, and when I noticed, I put them back on the shelf. Trouble was, it wasn’t the right shelf, which upset her. “No there, no there,” she shouted. Her face turned red, and even though I returned the biscuits to the correct shelf, she screamed and kicked the trolley. I got what I perceived as disapproving glances from fellow shoppers. As her howling loudened, I abandoned my shopping and left, stressed and roiling with negative self-talk.

At home, I noticed all the toys on the floor, the messy counter, the over-full garbage bin. Fail. And now, the lack of dinner ingredients I needed. Another fail. Within minutes my self-talk had escalated to:

"I can’t cope. I’m a rubbish mother…"

Sound familiar? What might be underpinning your thoughts of not-enoughness is a phenomenon known as Confirmation Bias.

This month’s expert, Dr Anna Colton, chartered clinical psychologist, says the mind scans for evidence to confirm your beliefs – perfectly normal, but not always helpful.

When you have a belief – for instance, your “rubbish-ness” as a parent – your mind becomes hypervigilant for evidence that you’re failing in that respect. What’s more, it actually disregards evidence which counters that belief.

It’s not hopeless, though. “We’re very wedded to our beliefs,” Anna says, “but we can challenge them with counter-evidence.”

Find a belief or recurring thought that you have about your parenting (or any familial relationship) that makes you feel not-enough, and head over to the printable worksheet.

Next, watch the short video where Anna shares this month’s 3-step experiment. Some really practical ideas in here! (I’ve abandoned the thumb print on my phone in favour of her tip.)

Ready? Let’s get started.

This Month’s Experiment

Step 1:

Step 2: Watch this month’s video.

The Enough Experiment with coach Mandy Lehto: Parenting

Step 3: Who do you know who’d benefit from “The Enough Experiment”? Share this link.

Share your experiences on The Life Leap Club on Facebook, and find me on Instagram.

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