Assessment tools for parent’s perception either of the infant or of their own parenting
by Robin Balbernie

This page is an edited extract from a paper written by Robin Balbernie on assessment and evaluation measures / tools that can be used in early intervention services. See the full paper here. Robin divides all the tools he describes into nine areas of which parental perceptions of the infant and their own parenting is the second, each of the nine areas has a separate page on this wiki, links to all nine areas are available on an overview page.)

This will invariably be a subjective snapshot if only done once with a single measure, with the risk that reporting is influenced by mood or events. Also all
these are open to falsifying by a parent who fears to be judged as they are frightened of the consequences. Remember, there are studies showing that
parental self-report has a fairly low correlation with actual behaviour.

1. The Post-partum Bonding Questionnaire (copy available) was devised to screen for problems in the mother-baby relationship. This has four
sub-scales: impaired bonding; rejection and pathological anger; infant focused anxiety and; incipient abuse. This can be self-scored online,
see: However, as with so many of parent reporting measures this would be easy to fake in order
to produce a false positive. The negatives are not very subtle.

2. The Maternal Object Relations Scale, adapted for babies (original was for age 2-4) as ‘My Baby’ (copy available) would be useful in some
situations; but again, very high risk and wary parents could easily produce false positives. It may be hard for parents with learning
difficulties. Those whom I have spoken to who have used this do not think it suitable for PIP purposes; but they may be wrong. See:

3. The Working Model of the Child Interview, WMCI, developed by Zeanah and Benoit is widely used in America, and does produce
clinically salient information. This takes several days to train in and involves a structured interview that is videoed and assessed. It can
produce a clinical opinion on the care-giver's internal representations of the infant. Narrative accounts are classified as balanced, insecure-disengaged
or insecure-distorted. It has been shown that responses on the WMCI provide data that indicate the likelihood of attachment
security or not in the child. There is a pre-natal version. This is slightly time consuming but useful. See: It can be applied for a one-off (or
forensic) assessment, and can be used with both birth and foster parents as a window into how their perceptions of the same child can
lead to quite different behaviours. Training is sometimes available in the UK. Interestingly, this interview can also be coded for an
assessment of the care-giver's ability to recognize mental states (thoughts, beliefs, feelings, desires and intentions) both in the self and
the child. This is the Parenting Reflectivity Scale, a five point measure that has been validated against maternal behaviour during interactions
with her child. See

4. The newly developed Tool to measure Parenting Self-Efficacy (TOPSE) is currently being used to evaluate parenting programmes in
several regions of the UK. Some details available. See: There is a version designed for parents with
learning disabilities too.

5. The Adult-Adolescent Parenting Inventory (AAPI-2) is a questionnaire used to assess parenting attitudes and child rearing practices of
adolescents and adults. It is based on the known parenting and child rearing behaviours of abusive parents. The purpose of the inventory is
to determine the degree to which respondents agree or disagree with parenting behaviours and attitudes known to contribute to child abuse
and neglect. It looks as if this has to be assessed on line. Responses to the questions
are used to assess expectations of children, empathy with children’s needs, belief in the use of physical punishment, role-responsibilities
and children’s power and independence. See: for another description. It
can be used to assess the effectiveness of interventions and has good levels of reliability and validity.

6. A Parenting Self-Efficacy measure might possibly be useful. There are several to choose form. See: There is a maternal Self-Efficacy Scale developed to examine maternal depression, infant difficulty and
maternal competence. Feedback invited.

7. A well-validated and useful looking measure from Australia is the Karitane Parenting Confidence Scale. This was originally developed in
a residential setting and revolves around perceived parental self-efficacy which has been found to be principally associated with the
following three areas: 1) Parental competence - evidence in this area was considered to be strong, with many studies indicating that high
PPSE is related to competent and positive parenting practices, strategies, and behaviours. 2) Parental psychological functioning - high
PPSE is associated with lower rates of parental depression and higher satisfaction in the parenting role, and to a lesser extent with lower
stress and better coping; and 3) Child adjustment - low PPSE was found to be associated with child behaviour problems and socio-emotional
maladjustment, and to a more limited extent with academic under-achievement and child maltreatment. Also, PPSE has been
identified as a mediator of the effects of several historically recognised correlates of parenting quality, including maternal depression, stress,
and child temperament. Taken together, the accumulated body of research suggests that PPSE is an important resiliency or protective
factor and is a predictor and possible mediator of parenting competence and child outcomes. For the manual and details of the
self-report form see:

8. The Parent Development Interview (PDI) is a 45 item semi-structured clinical interview intended to examine parents’ representations of their
children, themselves as parents, and their relationships with their children. Analogous to the AAI the PDI is intended to assess internal
working models of relationships. Unlike the AAI, in which adults are asked about their past relationships with their parents, the PDI elicits
representations regarding a current, ongoing, “live” relationship that is still evolving, that of the parent with her or his child. The parent is
asked to describe her or his child’s behaviour, thoughts, and feelings in various situations, as well as her responses to her or his child in these
situations. The parent is also asked to describe him/herself as a parent and to discuss emotions stimulated by the experience of parenting. The
interview strives in a number of ways to tap into parents’ understanding of their child’s behaviour, thoughts, and feelings, and asks the parents to
provide real life examples of charged interpersonal moments. The Anna Freud centre regularly offers training on the reflective function
aspect of this interview. The PDI can also be applied and the transcript analysed as ‘The meaning of the child’ interview for parental sensitivity
and likely risk to the child. This combines aspect of the CARE Index with the method of discourse analysis used to analyse the AAI, (see: ) to give an assessment of the way the child is being thought about by their
caregiver. (Grey, B., & Farnfield, S. (2016) The meaning of the child interview: A new procedure for assessing and understanding parent-child relationships of ‘at risk’
families. Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry. March (downloaded))

9. There is also the Parental Reflective Functioning Questionnaire (PRFQ) which is a self-report about levels of mentalization assessing
(a) prementalizing modes, (b) certainty about the mental states of the infant, and (c) interest and curiosity in the mental states of the infant.
Results from this have been shown to relate to infant attachment status. See: