"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?
- Prior to a situation: ask yourself some reflective questions before you intervene with your child.
- 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.
- 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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