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Parents Under Pressure

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Parenting Programme

Childhood Matters use The Parents Under Pressure (PUP) Parenting programme and all Family Development Practitioners are trained to accreditation level in the model. It is an evidence based model that combines psychological principles relating to parenting, child behaviour and parental emotion regulation that helps parents experiencing varying forms of stressful circumstances to develop their parenting skills and capacity.

The PUP programme takes a strengths-based approach where the focus is on aspects of care that the parents do well in order to build their confidence. PuP therapists work with parents to assist them with their understanding of their child’s development while focusing and responding to the child’s emotional needs and in turn improving the manner in which they interact with their child. A number of other methods are incorporated into the delivery of the programme, including psychometric assessment, parent workbook, mindfulness and video feedback (determined by the assessment and if required) . Mindfulness is fundamental to the programme and the proposed method of change, supporting parents to recognise and regulate their emotions, while being fully ‘present’ during daily interactions with the child.

The PuP programme is a manualised intervention and is supported by an ‘asset-based model’. This aims to address the complex and multiple problems specific to families we work with through a tailor made programme – the order and ‘dose’ of the content of each module is customised to the individual needs of the family.


Consequently, the programme offers a structured, although not necessarily a sequenced process of intervention. The PuP programme is generally run over 20-weeks and aims to enhance parenting skills and develop positive and secure relationships between parents and their children. The programme comprises of 12 core modules, which begins with a full assessment and goal setting.


Module 1: Assessment

The first module of the Parents Under Pressure program aims to identify the diverse problems families may be facing and help parents understand how these may be impacting on their parenting. In doing this a shared understanding of the family’s current concerns, strengths and areas of difficulty is developed. This information is used to decide on priority target areas for change and is also used in combination with other aspects of service delivery frameworks.

Module 2: Checking Out Priorities and Setting Goals

Module 2 of the Parents Under Pressure program provides feedback on the assessment, arrives at shared goals to work towards, and develops a way of monitoring progress towards goals. This module also looks at the potential involvement of partners or other carers in the PUP program.

Module 3: View Of Self as a Parent

Module 3 of the Parents Under Pressure program aims to help parents reflect on their view of themselves as parents in order to develop their insight in their parenting styles and practices.

Module 4: Managing Emotions When Under Pressure

The aim of Module 4 of the Parents Under Pressure program is to teach and encourage the use of emotional regulation, positive thinking, and self-soothing skills. *this is often complemented with other direct and group interventions within the Bessborough clinical framework

Module 5: Health Check Your Child

Module 5 is designed to open up a discussion on health, hygiene and nutrition. These are often difficult topics to discuss but all are really important to the wellbeing of children.

Module 6: Connecting With Your Child: Mindful Play

Module 6 of the Parents Under Pressure program is aimed at promoting a positive parent-child relationship. This involves encouraging sensitive and responsive parenting to provide the maximum opportunity for the development of a nurturing and loving relationship.

Module 7: Mindful Child Management

Module 7 is designed to help parents manage their child’s difficult behaviour. The module includes a description of specific non-punitive child management techniques, and emphasizes the importance of being in the right state of mind for discipline to be fair and effective.

Module 8: Managing Substance Use Problems

Module 8 aims to ensure that parents are not drinking at risky levels or at risk of developing substance abuse problems. The module looks at the skills needed to avoid this and helps build confidence to avoid substance use problems. For those who have already developed a substance use problem, strategies are discussed that help ensure that potential lapses to use do not become relapses. *this is often complemented with other direct and group interventions within the Bessborough clinical framework.

Module 9: Extending Support Networks

Module 9 aims to teach parents effective ways to extend their support networks. It includes modelling social interactions to help parents to feel confident in social situations.

Module 10: Life Skills

Module 10 of the Parents Under Pressure program aims to teach parents practical life skills where these do not exist. Life skills include budgeting, nutrition, health care, obtaining housing etc.

Module 11: Relationships

Module 11 addresses issues around communication skills and other problems in adult intimate relationships. This session should be used when the parent needs to learn how to communicate effectively with their partner or when their relationship is experiencing difficulties.

Module 12: Closure

The completion of the PuP program can be a time of mixed emotions for both parent and therapist. For many it is a time of joyful celebration. It might be the first time the parent has successfully completed anything in their lives, let alone concrete evidence that they are in control of parenting. Working with the PuP therapist during assessment allows the parent to identify the further modules to address specific needs (view of self as a parent, managing emotions under pressure, health check for your child, connecting with your child/mindful play).
The final session of PuP is dedicated to reflecting on the parents’ achievements over the course of the programme. Sessions are usually confined to two hours. Any necessary supplementary case-management occurs outside of the PuP sessions.

Overall, the PUP Programme aims are to:

  • To empower parents to believe that they can be the parent their baby or child needs: parental self-efficacy.
  • To develop nurturing and loving relationships with their babies and children: attachment is critical and can begin in the prenatal period
  • To ensure that parents are able to understand AND manage their own emotional state: impulsivity prevents parents from connecting w their infant and supporting optimal development.