Reflective Parenting

Understanding the Parent APP

What is reflective parenting, or as sometimes also called 'reflective functioning? “A fundamental task for parents, from infancy onward is to help children make sense of themselves, other people, and the world around them. The child’s emerging ability to think about his or her own mind and the minds of others has come to be called reflective function?” (Schofield and Beek)

Reflective function” is the ability of the parent to perceive the internal mental (thinking, feeling, imagining) world (of the child) so that the child is seen as having an internal world and center that is worthy of being the focus of the parent’s attention. Siegel, D.


A Two Way Street


Children experience themselves as being loved, loveable, valued, valuable, and component whenever their parents or carers experience them as manifesting those characteristics.


In a similar way, parents and caregivers experience themselves as being capable and caring whenever their children experience them as being capable and caring parents.


This called “intersubjectivity”


Thus a really important pair of questions are these:


Becoming who are and knowing who we are is not a private, secret, experience – it happens in the context of close early relationships.



We learn to become who we are and to know who we are by how we experience being in connection with others.


Sensing our emotions and regulating them, or being aware of our memories about certain events, actually emerges from our social relationships with important others in our live

Siegel, Daniel J.. The Power of Showing Up (Mindful Parenting) . Scribe Publications Pty Ltd. Kindle Edition

When I look at you and really notice you, here is what I see and sense about you in terms of your


  1. Feelings
  2. Thoughts
  3. Wishes
  4. Goals
  5. Needs


Thus, a reflective parent with sensitivity and attunement, helps the child to see themselves in a way that builds the child’s capacity to recognize their own and other’s inner life as well as their self-esteem

The child’s mind develops with this interpersonal shaping of the inner world. That’s why a secure attachment can be so powerful in terms of affecting healthy development

Siegel, Daniel J