Sigh, See, Start

How to Be the Parent Your Child Needs in a World That Won’t Stop Pushing―A Science-Based Method in Three Simple Steps

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Pub Date 20 Feb 2024 | Archive Date 20 Feb 2024
Chronicle Books | Princeton Architectural Press

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In a perfectionistic parenting culture that tells you that you are never enough no matter how much you do for your kids, this unique approach empowers you with a simple parenting technique to gain confidence, remain grounded, and connect positively with your children.

Dr. Alison Escalante is a board-certified pediatrician with more than two decades of experience who has spent the last ten years exploring ways to equip parents to meet their children's needs. She has experienced first-hand the culture of criticism and anxiety that drains parental joy and leaves parents feeling bad about what they should or should not be doing with and for their children. She calls this the parenting “ShouldStorm,” and this book is her invitation to escape that cycle and be the parent your child needs.

In this game-changing parenting book, Dr. Escalante outlines her 3-step science-based approach to escaping the ShouldStorm and embracing should-free mindful parenting. Going into detail about each step, she clearly explains how to implement this approach in everyday situations where parents may feel overwhelmed and shares real results from parents and children who use the technique:

  • SIGH: In moments of parental overwhelm, take a breath all the way into your belly. Imagine it's a sigh of relief. Sighs help you stop and center yourself instead of reacting to the "should" in your head. ​
  • SEE: Notice what’s going on. See your child. Are they happy? Are they close to tears? Are their fists balled in anger?
  • START: Then, and only then, start listening, and start thinking about what an appropriate reaction would be. Do they need a hug? Some space? Something else? 

In the vein of Good Inside, this book offers a simple approach and practical, proven strategies any parent can use. It also explores parenting culture and why it has become more and more intense over recent decades. For anyone who wants a proven toolkit for resisting a parenting culture that shames them when they can’t meet unrealistic expectations, Sigh, See, Start is your new go-to tool for joyful parenting.

In a perfectionistic parenting culture that tells you that you are never enough no matter how much you do for your kids, this unique approach empowers you with a simple parenting technique to gain...

Advance Praise

"What an important book! Warm, clear, and compelling, Dr. Alison Escalante presents a helpful and accessible guide for a diverse cross-section of parents: working parents and stay-at-home parents; LGBTQ+ parents and straight/cisgender parents; parents of typically developing and diverse children. I will definitely be using Sigh, See, Start!"—Brian, C. Johnson, LGBTQ and civil rights leader and author of Our Fair Share and the upcoming book The Work is The Work

"An absolutely brilliant piece on modern parenting. Filled with empathy, experience, and advice, this parenting book summarizes incredibly well the challenges that parents face, what children actually need, and concrete ways to approach the parenting role from a position of compassion, love, and knowledge."—Kari Groff MD, board-certified child and adult psychiatrist; owner and found of Park Slope Psychiatry and Brooklyn and Beyond Mental Health Group

“Dr. Alison Escalante and her See, Sigh, Start method gives parents a doable and proactive way to deal with day-to-day parenting challenges. Based in connection and co-regulation, this simple method is easy to learn, easy to put into practice, and helps us be more present and intentional with our children.”—Tina Payne Bryson, LCSW, PhD, New York Times Bestselling co-author of The Whole-Brain Child and No-Drama Discipline, and author of The Bottom Line for Baby.

“If we all had a pediatrician like Dr. Escalante, we would live in a kinder and more sane world. But, even if we didn't, we can learn and benefit from her years of experience working with children and parents. Dr. Escalante demystifies the challenge of raising healthy children in a chaotic world. Her pragmatic approach explores the latest scientific research demonstrating that mindful parenting does not come in a one-size-fits-all package. Instead, she guides us to trust our unique strengths while fostering the innate strengths of our children.”—Jake Eagle, psychotherapist, author of The Power of Awe

“You've heard of Stop, Drop, Roll—the valuable advice for anyone who is on fire? In this powerful book, Dr. Alison Escalante introduces Sigh, See, Start, valuable advice for anyone whose emotions are on fire. You'll love the real-life examples and actionable insights that can help you keep your cool, in the heat of the moment. Read it and reap.”—Sam Horn, author of Tongue Fu! and Talking on Eggshells

“Alison Escalante's book, Sigh, See, Start, offers a valuable approach for parents navigating the complexities of raising children in today's culture. The title represents a biobehavioral strategy that elevates parenting from practical management to an informed leadership model, acknowledging the child's abilities, experiences, and biology. As we strive to support our children in a vastly different world from our own upbringing, traditional parenting views clash with contemporary contexts and expectations. In this digital age, where the internet exposes our culture to an overwhelming matrix of anxiety, uncertainty, and worry, it becomes imperative to embrace new tools like Sigh, See, Start to navigate these challenges successfully.”—Stephen W. Porges, PhD, founding director, Traumatic Stress Research Consortium, Kinsey Institute, Indiana University Bloomington and professor of psychiatry, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

“I could just tell you that this is a book you should most definitely read. But I’m not going to. Why? Because I’m in full agreement with Dr. Escalante that the last thing today’s parents need is to be further pressured towards perfection by yet one more guilt-inducing ‘should.’ Rather, I will simply tell you that this is a timely, thoughtful, and deeply insightful parenting book you’re going to want to read." —Laura A. Jana, MD, pediatrician, author of Heading Home with Your Newborn and The Toddler Brain

Sigh, See, Start: How to Be the Parent Your Child Needs in a World That Won’t Stop Pushing—A Science-Based Method in Three Simple Steps is a must read for parents, and professionals that work with parents. Dr. Escalante beautifully integrates the theoretical with the practical. She combines a detailed history of the ‘shouldstorm’, its implications and impact, with real examples and doable exercises. There is something for everyone! The Sigh, See, Start method takes into account both individual and societal factors, freeing parents to be their best and raise the children they have. This book is now top of my recommended parenting books! Congratulations and thank you Dr. Alison Escalante.—Susan Birne-Stone, PhD, LCSW, individual and family therapist, relationship coach, adjunct professor of psychology 

"What an important book! Warm, clear, and compelling, Dr. Alison Escalante presents a helpful and accessible guide for a diverse cross-section of parents: working parents and stay-at-home parents;...

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ISBN 9781797223667
PRICE $27.95 (USD)

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Featured Reviews

Discover a groundbreaking solution to the overwhelming pressure of perfectionistic parenting in "Sigh, See, Start" by Dr. Alison Escalante. With over twenty years of pediatric expertise, Dr. Escalante unveils a revolutionary three-step technique designed to liberate parents from the suffocating grip of the "ShouldStorm." Drawing from real-life stories and science-backed insights, she empowers caregivers to find confidence and connection amidst the chaos.

In this essential guide, Dr. Escalante introduces the transformative power of her method:

SIGH: Embrace a moment of respite when the parenting weight feels unbearable. Inhale a sigh of relief, reaching deep into your core. This simple act allows you to disengage from internal judgments and center your perspective.

SEE: Delve into the world of your child. Recognize their emotions—joy, tears, or anger—through attentive observation. By acknowledging their needs, you lay the foundation for meaningful connection.

START: Armed with clarity, respond purposefully. Listen with intent and craft an appropriate reaction, whether it's a comforting embrace, granting space, or another suitable gesture.

Diverging from conventional parenting approaches, "Sigh, See, Start" is a practical handbook that equips parents with the tools to transcend societal pressures and embrace mindful, joyous parenting. Dr. Escalante's insights, coupled with relatable anecdotes and proven strategies, serve as a lifeline for those seeking an escape from the cycle of self-doubt. Akin to the success of "Good Inside," this book emerges as an indispensable resource for nurturing resilient parent-child relationships in an age of escalating expectations.

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Really loved this book a lot and its given me some good ideas on what else I need to teach my children about the world around us and all the changes that's happening the good and the bad and how they can protect themselves from it all. I highly recommend this to everyone cause the world is pushing our children a lot and its not a very good thing at all.

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I absolutely love this parenting book. It gets to the point, but also goes deep into explanation. I can't wait to get a hard copy.

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This book was a wonderful tool to help parents help their children be the best versions of themselves. I think it is very difficult to be a child these days. The normal pressures of society and peers can leave these children puzzled and wondering "why". The author did a great job breaking down the issues at hand and how we as parents can help our children succeed at life and other things!

Thank you NetGalley for my ARC of this book!

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This is an excellent guide to modern day parenting. It is just so hard to get it right but there is so much pressure to be perfect.

I will be implementing this technique!

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This book provides a great framework to start unlearning the behaviors from past parenting experiences, especially for the younger generations whose parents were taught to imply tactics that lead to the shouldstorm, the corporal punishment, and attachment/helicopter parenting. I appreciate it that it helps to alleviate some of the additional stress that a same sex couple may experience if they child is not able to breastfeed, etc.

This is accessible for parents, and goes into detail but also provides quick guidelines at the end of every chapter which can be used to refresh if someone forgets something.

I look forward to the official release so I can share with some of the clients parents that I work with.

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"Sigh, See, Start" is a good reference book for parenting mindfully. Rather than focusing on all you should be doing as a parent, Escalante suggests a 3-step approach: Sigh, See, and Start. I am looking forward to trying this as a care-giver and like the philosophy of centering yourself instead of merely reacting. Recommended! Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC.

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Thank you so much Alison Escalante, NetGalley, Chronicle Books, and Princeton Architectural Press for the opportunity to read this book early in exchange for an honest review.

Initial Thoughts: I have high hopes and raised confidence for this method. I am putting this method to work and will post full review closer to publication date.

Book Layout:

1) ShouldStorm: Information on how parenting became so conflicting and why it doesn't need to be. Impact of the ShouldStorm on our kids.

2) Sigh, See, Start Method: What it is and what it isn't and the science behind the method.

3) Sigh, See, Start Mindset: Builds on the above two sections. It sells the method, but it also provides a confidence boost and a few ways we can continue to build confidence and relationships.

Sigh, See, Start stands out from other parenting books for a few reasons:

1) Sigh, See, Start keeps it simple. Most parenting books have tips, tricks, and tools that parents can add to their toolbox, but... these are usually presented as a collection. This means that there are so many new tips, tricks, and tools in my mind that I can't actually recall them with enough clarity and confidence to use them when I need to. The moment slips by or becomes even more chaotic as I try to recall the best way to handle the situation. This is a contrast to the tool in Sigh, See, Start , which is exactly that – sigh (to reset your body), see (your child), start (thinking about what action to take).

2) With Sigh, See, Start, the answer to problems does not rely on remembering what a parent should do, but having confidence to do what a parent feels is right for situation and the child(ren) involved. It's not saying that a parent knows all the answers, but it acknowledges that parents often know what feels right for any given situation with any give child. Further, it states that one of the significant barrier we have with parenting lies with choosing to ignore what we feel is right in favor of what the book calls a ShouldStorm.

3) Oh my god, the ShouldStorm. A significant part of the book covers the ShouldStorm, which is essentially a collection of all those things we think we should do and/or have specifically been told that we should do. The ShouldStorm influences our actions because, well, that's what we should do. I did not expect this book to call me out in this way because I 100% live by the ShouldStorm. It is so bad that I often find myself googling "what is an appropriate response for [insert any situation here]" and will go through periods of delayed communication with friends and family because I'm so tired of trying to figure out how a normal person would respond to any given conversation. That's madness, and this book helped me realize that constantly trying to determine how I should act is completely killing my confidence and trust in myself. It sounds dumb, but it's real, and I now know that I'm not the only one stuck like this.

4) The impact of Sigh, See, Start on my family is instant. I know that children often act out because they want attention, but books give such conflicting advice on how to handle it. We're supposed to ignore it, give in, comment on it, distract them, stand our ground, make it a game, etc., but with Sigh, See, Start, you're supposed to calm/reset yourself, focus on your child(ren) as they are (without the assumptions we carry about situations/our child(ren)), and then parent as you see fit (and/or trial and error until you become more in tun with your child(ren). It works because it puts you in a mindset to be present, shows your child(ren) you're actually present with them, and guess what? Being present goes a long way. This isn't new – we know the importance of being present in our relationships and conversation and we know how it feels when that connection isn't complete – but it often feels harder with kids. With Sigh, See, Start, I see that it doesn't have to be.

In Practice: I've been using Sigh, See Start for about two weeks. Things I have noticed so far:

- My confidence has grown significantly. It's a relief to focus on what I believe I should do instead of trying to remember what others have told me I should do.

- I have a good luck with one child, but am still trial and erroring with the other.

- I struggle to implement this when issues arise involving more than one child. When they're fighting because they want the exact opposite of each other, I don't know how to make them both feel seen/heard and I don't always see a path forward that supports both of their needs. Also, I have a much harder time regulating myself when they start pecking at each other.

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