KIPS Blog: Parenting Assessment in Practice & Research

Parenting Assessment: Powerful Questions - Powerful Results

Posted by Phil Gordon on Thu, Jan 31, 2013 @ 11:32 AM

 Guest Contribution by:

Nancy Seibel,  Keys to Change 

  Visit Nancy at

Powerful Questions

You know a powerful question when you hear one.  It captures your attention.  It makes you stop and think. Something new becomes clear to you as you consider the question.  Powerful questions can be quite simple.  Powerful questions avoid communicating judgment.  Instead they focus on what can be learned (Williams & Menendez, 2007).  Often, helping others is less about knowing the right thing and more about asking the right question (Hyatt, 2012).

Parenting Assessment Questions


Watching and scoring a videotape is really the beginning of putting the KIPS parenting assessment to work in the program.  What happens next is where the change happens. Based on the results of the KIPS, if you’re a supervisor you can ask staff powerful questions to help them think about next steps in supporting the parents’ strengths and helping them grow in their responsiveness to their young children.  If you work directly with parents, you can use powerful questions to help parents learn about their strengths and areas for growth in their relationships with their children.  This learning can encourage parents to partner with you to develop plans and next steps. 

Here are a few examples of powerful questions a supervisor might ask a staff member:

  • When you see the father do that, what is your reaction?
  • How do you suppose this feels for the mother? For her child?
  • If you could wave a magic wand and do one thing to make this relationship stronger, what would that one thing be?

Staff members might ask parents:

  • What is this video bringing up in your mind?
  • What was it like for you to be playing with your child during this taping?
  • What might your child have been feeling when you held him like that?
  • If you could wave a magic wand and do one thing to strengthen your relationship with your child, what would that one thing be?

 Try using powerful questions to build relationships, encourage reflection, and support discovery and learning. Powerful questions engage staff and parents as partners, increase buy-in and increase the likelihood of developing a good plan and putting it to use. 

Powerful questions get powerful results!  

In the comments section below please share with us a time your question got a powerful result.

For more on supervsion and parenting assessment see: 

Supervision: Key to Making Parenting Assessment Matter to Children

Nancy L. Seibel, M.Ed., NCC, BCC is an infant mental health specialist, experienced supervisor and trainer and a life coach. She owns and directs Keys To Change, a life coaching and early childhood consulting practice. 


Hyatt, M. (2012).  7 suggestions for asking more powerful questions. Retrieved online on 1/29/13 at

Williams, P. & Menendez, D.S. (2007). Becoming a professional life coach: Lessons from the institute for life coach training. New York, NY: WW Norton.

Copyright: Nancy L. Seibel and Keys to Change Life Coaching, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from the author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nancy L. Seibel and Keys To Change Life Coaching with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

For more on how parenting assessment can benefit parenting services, download our paper on Nine Ways Parenting Assessment Can Power Your Program.  

Learn How Parenting Assessment:

1. Documents evidence of parenting outcomes
2. Tailors services to individual parenting strengths and needs
3. Monitors progress and guides service planning
4. Reinforces parenting progress and confidence
5. Serves as a parenting check-up as children develop
6. Shifts staff focus from child to parent-child interactions
7. Offers a common language for staff, families and programs
8. Builds reflective practice during supervision
9. Informs continuous quality improvement for staff and programs

Parenting assessment

Tags: parenting feedback, Parenting Assessment, supervision;, reflective questions