Strengthening Families: Five Protective Factors Part 2

Continuing Part 2 of Strengthening Families: Five Protective Factors (from the Center for the Study of Social Policy’s, which was a very helpful Parents Helping Parents webinar presented by parent advocate Mary Ellen Peterson.  Please check out Part 1, where I review parent resilience, social connections, and knowledge of parenting and child development.

Children are especially vulnerable due to the changes to their education and social environments in the age of COVID-19.

Peterson spoke about the five protective factors or a safety net that enhances strong families despite “exposure to significant adversity” as follows:

  1. Parental Resilience (previously discussed)
  2. Social Connections (previously discussed)
  3. Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development (previously discussed)
  4. Concrete Support in Times of Need
  5. Social and Emotional Competence of Children

Following are the last two factors and Peterson’s list of resources.

Concrete Support in Times of Need

Providing parents with the building blocks of competency and confidence is a fine balancing act.

In this context, Peterson says that concrete support means "immediate help to minimize the stress caused by very difficult challenges and adversity”, like in the current COVID-19 environment.

Peterson says that she feels that asking for support is not easy for parents because of feelings of being incompetent and of not knowing where to go for help.

Please see the list of resources at the end of the blog for a list of resources to help you find organizations that provide concrete support!

Social and Emotional Competency in Children

Peterson says that parents can help their children “to develop the ability to recognize and regulate their emotions, express themselves, and interact with others” by building the following emotional competencies:

  • Self-esteem
  • Self-confidence
  • Self-efficacy
  • Self-regulation
  • Personal agency (“planning and carrying out purposeful actions”)
  • Executive functioning
  • Patience
  • Persistence
  • Conflict resolution
  • Communication skills
  • Empathy
  • Social skills
  • Morality

Peterson highlights the following as elements needed in order for children to thrive:

  • Nurturing and trustful relationships
  • Routines
  • Interactive language experiences
  • Physically and emotionally safe environments
  • Opportunities to explore and learn each day

Peterson says that there are things that parents can do in order to develop the emotional competencies:

  • Model empathy
  • Allow a safe place for your child to express emotions.  It’s okay to get angry in this space, i.e.
  • Be emotionally responsive.
  • Set clear expectations and limits
  • Express and reinforce social skills like saying “please” and “thank you.”
  • Create opportunities for children to be able to solve simple problems, progressively increasing in complexity as they age. THIS IS IMPORTANT!
  • Reinforce positive behaviors

List of Resources

Please let me know if you have any questions!

Books About Developing Social and Emotional Competencies

Being Me (and Loving It!), book cover
Executive Function and Self-Regulation in Children, book cover
Words You Should Teach Your Children, book cover
The Caring Child, book cover
Seven Skills for School Success, book cover
We Can Work It Out, book cover