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Ask the doctor

 

Psychologist Dr Rachel Andrew advises parents lacking confidence in their parenting skills to celebrate their achievements, however small they seem, writes Lisa Salmon.

Q. I always think other parents are better than me at looking after their children. How can I improve and feel more confident about my parenting skills?

A. Clinical psychologist Dr Rachel Andrew specialises in the emotional wellbeing of families and is the co-author, with Anya Hayes, of The Supermum Myth (White Ladder Press, £12.99).

She says: “We all compare ourselves to other parents and often assume they’re parenting their children better.

“Just asking this question shows you care and are able to reflect.

“These are two key parenting skills that not all people have. If you’re able to do these two things, this is a great basis for good parenting.

“Most likely, it’s not about learning more about parenting, but about increasing your own confidence that the way you parent is good enough. Having a child is so momentous, we should all expect some anxiety, which is a healthy sign that what we’re doing is important to us. Don’t assume that the most confident parents are the more skilled.

“Rather than looking at others and what they’re doing, focus on two things.

“Firstly, focus on noticing and then congratulating yourself on the aspects of your parenting that you think you do well, no matter how small.

“Try ‘bringing your own brass band’ to small achievements and acknowledge you’ve done well to leave the house/ get the children dressed/ feed them.

“Secondly, think about what’s made you doubt your own skills. Did you expect parenthood to be different? Are you feeling physically or emotionally depleted? Do you need extra support, but it’s unavailable or something is getting in the way of you asking?

“It’s unlikely that other parents are doing anything better — but there might be small changes to your situation, and the way you view yourself, that could help you take care of yourself more and increase your confidence.”

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