As you engage in your work with families, do you ever question whether you are utilizing your time in the most effective manner? Considering that time is one of our most valuable resources, it’s an important inquiry to make. Regardless of the nature of your work, operating efficiently and effectively can simply be a professional standard that benefits you and your employer, or it can mean transformative work that leaves a lasting legacy. Irrespective of how efficient and effective your practice is (or can be) today, it is crucial to give our best to the families we assist.

A significant amount of invaluable research has focused on the five (or six, depending on one’s perspective) Protective Factors for parents and children. Any time spent working on these protective factors is time well invested, and here’s some good news: it benefits both parents and their children, even if our work with each of them is conducted separately. According to the Center for the Study of Social Policy, here are some examples of how this holds true:

  • Demonstrating parental resilience effectively, which involves managing stress, allows parents to feel better and provide more nurturing attention to their child. This, in turn, enables the child to form a secure emotional attachment. When children receive nurturing attention and develop secure emotional attachments with their parents, it fosters their resilience in times of stress.

  • Parents with high-quality, constructive, and supportive social connections are better equipped to cope with stressors and engage in nurturing parenting behaviors that promote secure attachments in their young children.

  • Expanding knowledge of parenting and child development empowers parents to understand and provide what young children need most to thrive. This includes nurturing, responsive, reliable, and trusting relationships; regular and consistent routines; interactive language experiences; and opportunities for experiential learning.

  • When parents can identify, seek, and receive respectful and timely concrete support during times of need, it ensures that both they and their children receive the basic necessities required for growth, such as healthy food and a safe environment. Additionally, it may involve accessing specialized medical, mental health, social, educational, or legal services.

  • The social and emotional competence of children does not naturally evolve. It necessitates a relationship with a consistent, caring, and attuned adult who actively fosters the development of social and emotional skills. This involves creating an environment where children feel safe expressing their emotions, being emotionally responsive to children, and modeling empathy (Harper Browne, C. P.6).

These examples hopefully pique your interest in utilizing protective factors more frequently within your work. Stay tuned for a series of blogs that will delve into each protective factor and provide ideas on integrating them to have the most positive impact, while honoring the families you serve in the most efficient manner. 

Written by: Bill Schulenberg, Director of Training

Citation: Harper Browne, C. (2014, September). The Strengthening Families Approach and Protective Factors Framework: Branching out and reaching deeper. Washington, DC: Center for the Study of Social Policy.