"Old men can make war, but it is children who will make history"
Five Protective Factors are the foundation of the Centre for the Study of Social Policy’s ‘Strengthening Families Approach’ which we draw from here: parental resilience, social connections, concrete support in times of need, social and emotional competence of children and knowledge of childhood and parenting.
Research studies support the notion that when these factors are well-established in a family, the likelihood of child abuse and neglect diminishes. Research shows that these protective factors are also ‘promotive’ factors that build family strengths and a family environment that promotes optimal child and youth development.
Support in Times of Need
Meeting basic economic needs like food, shelter, clothing and health care is essential for families to thrive.
Likewise, when families encounter a crisis such as domestic violence, mental illness or substance abuse, adequate services and supports need to be in place to provide stability, treatment and help for family members to get through the crisis.
Friends, family members, neighbours and community members provide emotional support, help solve problems, offer parenting advice and give concrete assistance to parents.
Networks of support are essential to parents and also offer opportunities for people to “give back”, an important part of self-esteem as well as a benefit for the community. Isolated families may need extra help in reaching out to build positive relationships.
A Child’s Social Competence
A child or youth’s ability to interact positively with others, self-regulate their behaviour and effectively communicate their feelings has a positive impact on their relationships with their family, other adults, and peers.
Challenging behaviours or delayed development create extra stress for families, so early identification and assistance for both parents and children can head off negative results and keep development on track.
No one can eliminate stress from parenting, but a parent’s capacity for resilience can affect how a parent deals with stress.
Resilience is the ability to manage and bounce back from all types of challenges that emerge in every family’s life. It means finding ways to solve problems, building and sustaining trusting relationships including relationships with your own child, and knowing how to seek help when necessary.
Knowledge of Childhood and Parenting
Accurate information about child development and appropriate expectations for children’s behaviour at every stage help parents see their children and youth in a positive light and promote their healthy development. Information can come from many sources, including family members as well as parent education classes and surfing the internet.
Studies show information is most effective when it comes at the precise time parents need it to understand their own children. Parents who experienced harsh discipline or other negative childhood experiences could need extra help to change the parenting patterns they learned as children.