You might know people who have faced great risk but continue to find success and happiness despite the odds against them. They have resilience, the ability to “bounce back” from misfortune or change. Resilient people tend to have something in their lives that helps them overcome challenges and move on in positive ways. These strengths that help resilient people bounce back are protective factors.
We know that protective factors can be found in:
- Your environment: The world around you (like a caring community, access to health care, and other needed resources)
- Your family: Those who matter the most to you (like extended family and nurturing friends)
- Yourself: Your abilities and inner strengths (like being a good problem-solver or an honest person)
All of the above types of protective factors are important. The protective factors found within you can be strengthened, despite risk or adversity in the environment or family.
The Devereux Center for Resilient Children (DCRC) works together with families and caregivers to strengthen three specific protective factors for children. These protective factors have been found to help children be better prepared for school and life and include:
- Attachment/Relationships: Attachment is the ongoing, emotional relationship the child builds over time with a familiar adult through nurturing interaction. The warm connection a child has with another familiar person is called a relationship.
- Initiative: Initiative is the child’s ability to use independent thought and action to meet his or her needs.
- Self-Regulation (toddlers): Self-Regulation is the child’s ability to gain control of bodily functions, manage powerful emotions, and maintain focus and attention (Shonkoff & Phillips, 2000).
~ Source: For Now and Forever: A Family Guide for Promoting the Social and Emotional Development of Infants and Toddlers, 2009, pages 5-6.
These three protective factors are central in our assessments, strategies, and resources. Perhaps you are part of a program that is using the Devereux Early Childhood Assessment for Infants and Toddlers (DECA-I/T), but even if your child’s program uses another tool to measure resilience and social emotional health, our site provides a wealth of ideas to strengthen these three protective factors. For more information, contact [email protected].