Child Development Parenting Tools

Reflective Parenting: What? Why? How?

Reflective Parenting: What? Why? How?

All parents want their child to be happy, healthy, get along with others, and do well in school.

Reflective Parenting is the best way to achieve this goal.


  • Reflective Parenting is a set of skills and guiding principles (see below) that encourage and support the use of Reflective Thinking in all the interactions parents have with their children. Reflective Parenting enables a parent to see the world from his or her own perspective and from their child’s perspective.
  • Reflective Thinking means recognizing that all behavior is linked in a meaningful way to underlying mental states- such as emotions, intentions, beliefs, goals and thoughts. Your child’s behavior is linked to something in your child’s mind and your behavior is linked to something in your mind.  The behavior is on the outside; the meaning of the behavior is inside the mind. We see the behavior. The mind is hidden. Therefore we can only be curious about and infer what the meaning of the behavior might be.

WHY Reflective Parenting

  • Promotes positive development for the child.
  •  Creates a strong relationship bond between parent and child.
  • Transmits the capacity for reflective thinking to the child, which enables them to become a well functioning mature adult.

HOW Reflective Parenting

  • Is easy to learn,
  • Applies to children of any age 
  • The model:  5 basic skills and 10 guiding principles that help parents in their desire to connect with, understand, comfort, and support their child, as well as to be able to set appropriate limits and boundaries.

Learn how to be a reflective parent: participate in a hands-on experiential reflective parenting group by a trained facilitator. Learn these basic skills and guiding principles

Five Basic Skills

  1. Push pause and slow down
  2. Be present in the moment
  3. Observe the behavior and label it with words (even if you don’t say them)
  4. Reflect on the meaning of the behavior, your child’s and yours.
  5. Use the understanding you get from skills 1-4 to guide your response.

Ten  Guiding Principles

  1. All healthy child development occurs in the context of a relationship
  2. There is no absolutely one right way of parenting
  3. There is no such thing as a perfect parent
  4. Reflect on the meaning of the behavior, your child’s and yours.
  5. Use understanding to guide your response
  6. Help a child learn to cope with stress
  7. Use two-arms, one for holding feelings and one for holding the line
  8. Foster closeness and promote separateness
  9. Pay more attention to strengths and what is right, than weaknesses and what is wrong.
  10. Misunderstanding and conflict are normal and inevitable. But if they cause a rupture in the relationship, the rupture must be repaired.

I’d love to hear your comments and answer any questions that are of general interest to  parents



As a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, I have been in private practice for over 35 years, with a special interest in parents and couples.


Nothing from October 3, 2022 to April 2, 2023.