MilParent Power offers tools, tips and tactics to help keep children and families healthy, safe and strong. Protective factors are conditions or attributes of individuals, families, communities or society that promote healthy child development and well-being. Research on child development and behavior has identified five protective factors that help keep families strong even when life gets difficult. Here they are:
Flexibility and inner strength keeps families strong in times of stress. Resilient parents are able to cope with the stresses of everyday life. They can be centered, focused and available to their kids even when their world is feeling chaotic. It’s like when the airline staff instructs you to put on your oxygen mask before helping anyone else. You’re no good to others if you don’t take care of yourself. Whether it’s reducing your own stress or reenergizing with your spouse, set a good example for your kids by learning how to calm yourself down and improve your mood. Suggested activities: Take a yoga class, mediate, nap or take a walk. Find some ways to care for yourself here.
Knowledge of Parenting and of Child and Youth Development
Being a great parent is part natural and part learned. You can earn all kinds of parenting wins by understanding your child’s physical and emotional growth. Understanding what to expect at different ages and stages will help you be more attuned and prepared to respond, communicate and even discipline your kids in the most helpful and effective ways. Learning about child development will help you be an even better parent. Suggested activities: Read an article like Understanding Your Child’s Developmental Stage or check out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s developmental milestones from 2 months to 5 years.
Connecting with friends, neighbors and caring community members builds a strong support system that every parent needs. Your child will learn and benefit from seeing how you interact with others and navigate social settings. Being engaged with others and surrounding yourself with people who care for you and your children will ideally offer both crucial emotional support and help solving problems. Social connections help to keep us healthy as parents and let us model good behavior for our children. Suggested activities: Welcome a new neighbor, attend a playgroup or learn more about employment or volunteer activities.
Concrete Supports for Parents
Strong families ask for help when they need it. Every parent needs help sometimes, whether it’s how to soothe a fussy baby, stretch a paycheck, keep kids engaged or manage your temper. Concrete supports include people or resources you can turn to whether you’re overwhelmed, need specialized resources or help with basic necessities. Military OneSource and military and family life counselors can help you find the help you need, including the New MilParent specialty consultation for expectant parents and parents of children up to the age of 5. Suggested activity: Contact Military One Source or your installation Military and Family Support Center for assistance.
Promoting Social and Emotional Competence of Children
Children get along better with others when they have words to express how they feel. The next time your little one has you feeling the need to stomp your foot or raise your voice, take a moment to steady yourself and model the behavior you would love him or her to learn. Go ahead and say, “I’m feeling very frustrated right now.” Modeling social and emotional maturity for children means letting them see you take a breath, count backwards from ten, compose yourself and then give words to your feelings. Consider ways to meet your child at eye level and help them understand your reactions – frustration, fatigue, sadness, excitement, stress and joy – whatever the feeling, they will learn how to handle their emotions by watching you. Promoting social and emotional competence in children also requires factoring in other elements such as trauma or special needs. Suggested activity: Check out FOCUS online games and teaching tools.
Enhance your parenting game with helpful resources.
You’ve got this. Military OneSource is the one source you need to secure more of those little parenting wins. You’ll find resources and support, ranging from Morale, Welfare and Recreation programs that your family will love to your installation’s Military and Family Support Center, New Parent Support Program and so much more to help you master this thing called parenting.