The Protective Factors

A Framework for Building Strong & Stable Families

The purpose of the Protective Factors Framework is to empower families and their communities to approach their relationships, care, and raising of children with strengths-based tactics.

Click the circles to learn more about each Protective Factor!

5 Protective Factors 5. Social- Emotional Competence of Children 4. Concrete Support in Times of Need 3. Knowledge of Parenting & Child Development 2. Social Connections 1. Parental Resilience

It’s a strategy that focuses on the well-being of all families and calls upon members of every family’s circle to support and engage in the tactics that, when practiced, create environments free from abuse and neglect.

Environments like these are defined by the presence of five Protective Factors, including parental resilience, social connections, knowledge of parenting and child development, concrete support in times of need, and the social-emotional competence of children.

Each Protective Factor is important on its own; together they build strong families.


Parental Resilience

The ability to manage and bounce back from all types of challenges that emerge in a family’s life. This includes solving problems, building and maintaining trusting relationships, and knowing how and when to seek help.

What it Looks Like: General Life

  • Having self-confidence and believing one can make and achieve goals.
  • Feeling hopeful and having a general positive attitude.
  • Solving general life problems and managing anger, anxiety, sadness, feelings of loneliness, and other negative feelings.
  • Seeking help for self when needed.

What it Looks Like: Parenting

  • Not allowing stressors to keep one from providing nurturing attention to their child.
  • Having a positive attitude about one’s parenting role and responsibilities.
  • Solving parenting problems.
  • Seeking help for one’s child when needed.


Social Connections

Building positive relationships and support networks among friends, family members, neighbors, community members, etc.

What it Looks Like

  • Building trusting relationships; feeling respected and appreciated.
  • Having friends, family members, neighbors, and others who provide emotional support, instrumental support, spiritual support, an opportunity to engage with others in a positive manner, help solve problems, buffer parents from stressors, and reduce feelings of isolation.
  • Having a sense of connectedness that enables parents to feel secure and confident.


Knowledge of Parenting & Child Development

Disseminating accurate information about child development and appropriate expectations for children’s behavior to promote healthy development.

What it Looks Like

  • Seeking, acquiring, and using accurate information about parenting behaviors that lead to early secure attachments and the importance of being emotionally available, nurturing and responsive, establishing routines, engaging in interactive language experiences, providing a physically and emotionally safe environment, and providing opportunities for children to explore and learn by doing.
  • Having appropriate developmental expectations.
  • Using positive discipline techniques.
  • Recognizing and attending to the unique needs of a child.


Concrete Support in Times of Need

Meeting basic economic needs like food, shelter, clothing, and health care is essential for families to thrive.

What it Looks Like

  • Being able to identify, find and receive basic necessities such as healthy food and a safe environment as well as medical, mental health, social, educational, and legal services
  • Seeking help with needed
  • Navigating service systems
  • Having financial security to cover basic needs and unexpected costs


Social-Emotional Competence of Children

Focusing on the ability for children to positively interact with others and communicate their feelings in and effective manner; social-emotional delays can cause extra family stress.

What it Looks Like: Parents

  • Having positive perceptions of their children and responding warmly and consistently
  • Fostering a strong and secure parent-child relationship
  • Creating an environment that encourages sharing emotions and models empathy
  • Setting clear expectations and limits
  • Separating emotions from actions
  • Talking and reading together
  • Encouraging and reinforcing social skills
  • Creating opportunities for problem-solving

What it Looks Like: Children

  • Developing and engaging in self-regulating behaviors
  • Interacting positively with others
  • Using language skills
  • Effectively communicating emotions

Check out these Protective Factors resources, too!


The Protect Factors Framework and the Five Protective Factors


Socially Connected Communities

Strengthen Social Connections - Social Graphics-PDG

How to Strengthen Social Connections


Social Connections Influence Your Health


Self-Care & Parental Resilience

Celebrating Kids' Uniqueness

Celebrating Your Kids’ Uniqueness

PDG Appropriate Developmental Expectations

Developmentally-Appropriate Expectations


The Importance of Concrete Supports

What it Means to Be Resilient

The Basics of Parental Resiliency

Importance of Being Emotionally Available-PF

Responsive Parenting Means Being Available

Social-Emotional Competence

The Many Dimensions of Social-Emotional Competence

PDG Kids Explore & Learn by Doing

Building Environments for Exploring and Learning

What Social Connections Look Like

Social Connections Strengthen Families

How Community Supports Families-PDG-PF

Social Communities Strengthen Families

How Community Supports Families-PDG-PF

3 Vital Components of Social Connections

How Community Supports Families-PDG-PF

3 Things Parents and Caregivers Can Do to Strengthen Social Connections

Learn more about the Protective Factors Framework