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Ways to Secure More Parenting Wins

Navy Dad picks up daughter

The Military Parent Resource Center offers tools, tips and tactics to help keep children and families healthy, safe and strong. Research on child development and behavior has identified five protective factors that help keep families strong, even when life gets difficult. Protective factors are conditions or attributes of individuals, families, communities and society that promote healthy child development and well-being. They are:

Parental adaptability

Parents who can adapt to change might be better able to cope with the stress of everyday life. They can be centered, focused on and available to their children, even when their world is feeling chaotic. You’re no good to others if you don’t take care of yourself first. It’s like when the airline staff instructs you to put on your oxygen mask before helping anyone else.

Whether it’s reducing your own stress or reenergizing with your spouse, set a good example for your children by learning how to calm yourself and improve your mood. Suggested activities: Take a yoga class, meditate, nap or take a walk. Find ways to care for yourself here.

Knowledge of parenting and 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 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 along the lines of, Understanding Your Child’s Development, or check out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s developmental milestones from 2 months of age to 5 years.

Social connections

Connecting with friends, neighbors and caring community members will help you build a strong support system. 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 emotional support and help with solving problems.

Social connections help 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 and volunteer activities.

Solid support system for parents

Strong families ask for help when they need it. Every parent needs help sometimes, whether it’s learning how to soothe a fussy baby, stretch a paycheck, keep kids engaged or manage your emotions. A solid support system includes people and resources you can turn to whether you’re feeling overwhelmed, need specialized resources or need help with basic necessities.

Military OneSource and military and family life counselors can help you find the help you need, including through the New MilParent specialty consultation for expectant parents and parents of children through age 5. Also check out the New Parent Support Program for help. You can use the MilitaryINSTALLATIONS locator to find the nearest contact.

Suggested activity: Contact Military OneSource or your installation Military and Family Support Center for assistance.

Promoting the 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 child 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 them 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 backward from 10, 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 or joy. Whatever they are feeling, they can learn how to better handle their emotions by watching you.

Promoting social and emotional competence in children also requires factoring in elements such as trauma or special needs. Suggested activity: Check out FOCUS online games and teaching tools.

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 MWR programs 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.

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