The Protective Factors
Being a strong and flexible parent means keeping a level head during the challenges of everyday life as well as during times of crisis. In the face of stress this is often difficult, but parents with the right tools can succeed. The willingness to try a different approach, be it creative problem solving, having a sense of humor, turning to faith, or simply knowing when to step back and calm down, is empowering. Identifying what works for any given child and parent and even the issue at hand will take trial and error. But at the core, parental resilience is the ability to calmly and positively overcome the trials life sends our way.
A parent with supportive and positive social connections has access to a friendly ear, a warm hug, and someone to bounce ideas off. They also have someone to offer to care for a child, help around the house, provide transportation, or other needed assistance. Social connections are often friends, family, neighbors, parents with shared experiences, childcare providers, teachers, clergy, or others in the community. But they can also be more formal, such as parent education classes or support groups. Simply knowing that they're not alone can provide parents the necessary hope, energy, or breather to overcome a stressful situation.
Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development
Children grow and learn at different paces, often reaching milestones before a parent realizes much time has passed. Parents that understand why their child behaves the way they do, whether its pointing instead of using words or throwing a temper tantrum, are capable of directing their child to the desired behavior. By learning about development parents can see they aren't alone; most parents face the same challenges. Once in possession of this know-how, parents can apply positive parenting methods and discipline that is developmentally appropriate and nonviolent.
Concrete Support in Times of Need
Everyone needs help sometimes, but not everyone is willing to ask for, or seek out that help. Parents in need of assistance can range from those with a temporary financial setback to those entrenched in poverty to those battling substance abuse. Helping parents stave off the damages of accumulation and helplessness might mean providing food, clothing, and/or shelter or it might mean linking them to health care, child care subsidies, or other social services. It also might mean being sensitive to the signs of need and offering help in case someone is reticent to ask.
Social and Emotional Competence of Children
Sometimes children feel things that they cannot understand. This can be frustrating to the child and cause them, in a plea for help, to act in ways they know aren't acceptable. When parents help their children understand emotions they are empowering the child to communicate how they feel. This communication is valuable for parents and other caregivers in that it allows them to help the child through the moment as well as establish emotional and social life skills. And in case of children with developmental or emotional or social issues, parents can find the extra help they need to understand the challenges their child may be facing. In many cases parents need access to trained staff, direct teaching of social and emotional skills, creative programs for children, and timely action when there is a concern.
Nurturing and Attachment
Children possess an amazing ability to learn, experience, and feel. When they are nurtured with warmth, compassion, and consistency they can develop at their own pace. Parents that love and respect their children as individuals can seamlessly provide them with a safe and positive environment in which to grow and experience life.