Reflective Parenting

by Maxine
Posted July 30 2010 05:28pm
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"Mirror, mirror on the wall; who’s the fairest of them all?" Wouldn’t it be great if your mirror could talk back, offering you wisdom and advice on how to effectively parent your child? Although your mirror cannot reflect words and ideas, there are mirror-like skills you can use to accomplish the same task—Reflective Parenting.

What is Reflective Parenting, exactly?
To be a Reflective Parent is to look in an imaginary mirror from time to time and ask yourself if how you are parenting is the best way to help your child learn.

The Core Strategy of Reflective Parenting - ask yourself these types of questions to help move to new and more positive solutions.

  • Do I feel good about what I just did?
  • What would help my child learn from this situation?
  • How does my child feel about what just happened?
  • If I watched someone else do this, what would I think?
  • What was my child’s goal in what she just did?
  • What was my goal in what I just did?

Steve is watching his 9-month old son, Todd, move towards the china cabinet. When he pulls himself up to grab the handle on the door, Steve scolds, “Bad Todd! Bad!  Don’t touch Daddy’s things!”  Todd stops.  But he looks frightened and confused.

As Steve picks Todd up to move him away from the china cabinet, Steve reflects on what just happened. First, he didn’t mean to call Todd “bad.” Secondly, Todd probably has no idea why Steve is upset.
Steve then takes Todd back to the china cabinet and sits on the floor with him. Steve points to some of the items inside. He tells Todd how special they are, but explains “Don’t touch.  No touching.”  Then, Steve cuddles Todd as he takes him to his play area.

In this situation, Steve used Reflective Parenting. He thought about his first negative response to Todd, and then, upon reflection, created a new positive parenting interaction.

When should you apply Reflective Parenting?

  1. Prior to a situation: ask yourself some reflective questions before you intervene with your child.
  2. During a situation: sometimes you can see you’re really off track in being a Positive Parent when you are in the middle of a parenting situation. When this happens, slow things down and use reflective questions to get yourself back on track.
  3. After a situation:  evaluate how you’re feeling about what happened. If you decide that you really don’t feel good about what just happened, “revisit” and redo things in a new way—just as Steve did in the example.

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The Temperament Wheel

by Maxine
Posted July 31 2010 04:48pm
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The Temperament Wheel is a visual way to look at your temperament traits and those of your child. Each spoke of the wheel has a trait and an inner, middle and outer band. The inner band would be a low level of the trait, the outer band the high level and the middle band would represent an individual with a mixture of high and low levels of a trait. For each of the traits, colour in the band that would best represent yourself .

Once you have completed your wheel you should complete one for your child. Then compare the similarities and differences between the two.


Download The Temperament Wheel (PDF)



Find out more about each temperament trait and use these Comfort, Play & Teach strategies that are tailored to different temperament traits.

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The Temperament Worksheet

by Maxine
Posted August 3 2010 01:33pm
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Examine how your child and you and your partner fit, or do not fit, together as a family with this worksheet. It can be beneficial for each parent to complete the Temperament Worksheet for their child, and then examine how the child and the parents fit, or do not fit, together as a family.

Complete one worksheet for each child. Have your partner complete one for each child, too. Compare your answers with each other and discuss where you don’t have the same views of your child.

Download the Temperament Worksheet (PDF).

Click here to view all of our Temperament resources and worksheets.

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Temperament: First Reaction

by Nancy and Nanci
Posted February 18 2012 10:04pm
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Temperament - First ReactionOne of our temperament traits, our innate reaction to the world, is First Reaction. Some people love novelty and change while others react with caution to new situations. Note that First Reaction is a separate trait from adaptability, which is the reaction to change over the long term.

In your parenting role, you'll probably face many surprises. Predicting how you – and your partner – will react will help you weather these challenges.


Are you adventurous or cautious?

Scenario One
You and your partner had a well-rehearsed birth plan. The midwife or doctor attending the birth tells you the plan can't be followed.

  • Cautious: You need time to absorb this news. After the birth, you're still feeling sad that the plan had to be abandoned.

  • Adventurous: You start asking what the process will be and what decisions you can make now.

Scenario two
The ultrasound suggested you were having a girl. The nursery has been painted pink and the layette is pink and ruffled. The baby in your arms is a boy.

  • Cautious: Your thoughts are swirling and you're trying to figure out how gender affects identity.

  • Adventurous: You're thinking what shade of blue you will paint the nursery. You're thinking you can return the girl clothes and go shopping all over again.

Scenario three
The baby needs medical intervention or other support.

  • Cautious: You need to hear the news, step by step, and reflect on what this means.

  • Adventurous: You are upset but you immediately ask your partner to research the resources your baby will need and to recruit the support you will need.

Both a cautious and an adventurous First Reaction can be positive, depending on the situation. Knowing this aspect of temperament, you can predict how you’ll react to the unexpected and to the changes your family will experience as your baby changes into a toddler, a preschooler, a "big Kid," a young adult. Parenting means adjusting to endless changes, changes that touch your heart.



This article was written by Parents2Parents experts,
Nanci Burns and Nancy Rubenstein
, co-authors of Take Your Temperament!

We all know that every child is unique. The Take Your Temperament! work-book is designed to help you put that reality into action in an engaging and meaningful way. It invites parents and children to explore how they react to the world—and do so without guilt or shame. Find out more at www.takeyourtemperament.ca.

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You can use a variety of Comfort, Play & Teach strategies that are tailored to different temperament traits.
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Although your mirror cannot reflect words and ideas, there are mirror-like skills you can use to accomplish the same task—Reflective Parenting.
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