Protective Factor #6: Making sure kids are socially-emotionally strong

Saying that parenting is a tough job is an understatement. After all, “jobs”
are supposed to end when you clock out. And you know perfectly well
that being a parent is a round-the-clock proposition, where even the best
parents make mistakes and are sometimes unsure that they’re doing the
right thing.

The truth is raising people to be the best that they can be should be hard
work. It’s the most important job to be done in Nebraska communities, and
as a parent, you’re in the thick of it. There’s plenty that your community can
do to support you to be the parent you want to be. Better still, there’s plenty
that you can do to support yourself.

Protective Factors are attributes in people and families that increase health
and well-being. All families have Protective Factors.

You’ve probably heard of “risk factors.” Protective Factors act as a buffer
against risk factors and are even more important in the probability of
positive outcomes.

If you look at any strong, healthy family, you will see the Protective Factors.
When things are going well we are building the Protective Factors without
thinking about it. But like many worthwhile things in life, living all of the
Protective Factors takes practice. Basically, this means discovering the best
ways to take care of yourself, be a strong parent and build healthy family

Think of the Protective Factors as layers of insulation between your family
and the stress of the world. The more layers you have, the better the buffer
for you and your kids. Each of the Protective Factors has been proven to
support positive parenting—meaning happier kids and parents.

Protective Factor #6: Social-emotional competence of children

The final Protective Factor is something that teachers call “social-emotional competence.” Basically, it means that children can manage their emotions, talk about their feelings and develop ways to solve problems in interactions with others. These skills are critical to success in school and life.

What social emotional comptetence in children looks like

  • Children feel loved, believe they matter, and can figure out how to act according to the expectations of different environments, for example, home and classroom.
  • Children take turns and share.
  • Children are able to talk to their parents about their feelings and parents help children express their feeling through language rather than “acting out.”
  • When a child’s behavior causes extra stress and frustration to the child or the parent, the parent asks for help.  This might include talking with an experienced teacher or counselor.

Tips for social emotional comptetence in children

  • Consider how your home feels from your child’s perspective. If needed, how can you make your home more peaceful?
  • Set clear rules and limits, e.g., “people in our family don’t hurt each other.”
  • Model empathy for others
  • Know what social and emotional skills children typically do and do not have at different ages.
  • Visit the Zero to Three website for tips and tools for infants and toddlers,
    Visit the Nebraska Family Helpline for information on child behavior problems or mental health needs. For crisis assistance on issues from bullying, drugs and thoughts of suicide to sharing and obedience issues, trained counselors are available 24/7 at 1-888-866-8660

Specific Strategies

Early learning

Make sure your child is receiving high-quality early childhood education as soon as possible. For stay-at-home parents, this can mean bringing in a trained home visitor to share new ways to help your child with social-emotional skills.

Social learning

Kids who have ample time around other kids have more opportunities to learn social cues and practice their own people skills, like sharing, taking turns and having conversations. If your child isn’t in school, playdates, church groups, tumbling classes or just regular trips to a crowded park are great ways to make sure your child is connecting with others. Set up one-on-one playdates so your child can deepen relationships.

Behavior management

Every child has challenging behaviors from time to time. Your school district and pediatrician can provide referrals to counseling services that are often free to help you correct problem behavior and keep your child on the right social-emotional path.

Learn more about Protective Factors. Download the eBook now.

Nebraska Children's mission is to maximize the potential of Nebraska’s children, youth, and families through collaboration and community-centered impact.

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Posted in Cradle to career

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