Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are inevitable because, well… life happens. But this does not mean that parents cannot do everything in their power to minimize the negative effects of ACEs. As children develop cognitively, socially, and emotionally over time, they learn to deal with problems by watching and learning from others in their environment. More importantly, the adults in a child’s life play a major role in how this plays out in moments of stress and trauma. And that’s why it is so important to understand that the presence of protective factors in a child’s life determines the likelihood of a positive outcome when faced with adversity time and time again.
A protective factor as defined by the Report of the Surgeon General on Mental Health is “a characteristic at the biological, psychological, family, or community (including peers and culture) level that is associated with a lower likelihood of problem outcomes or that reduces the negative impact of a risk factor on problem outcomes.” So in other words, protective factors reduce the chance that an individual will engage in anti-social or risky behaviors. The more protective factors that are in a child’s life, the better off they are in achieving great success and fulfillment in life.
Here are just a few examples of protective factors that can help children develop the right skills to achieve.
At the Individual Level
- Positive physical development
- Academic achievement/intellectual development
- High self-esteem
- Emotional self-regulation
- Good coping skills and problem-solving skills
- Engagement and connections in two or more of the following contexts: school, with peers, in athletics, employment, religion, culture
At the School Level
- Family provides structure, limits, rules, monitoring, and predictability
- Supportive relationships with family members
- Clear expectations for behavior and values
At the School, Neighborhood, and Community Level
- Presence of mentors and support for development of skills and interests
- Opportunities for engagement within school and community
- Positive norms
- Clear expectations for behavior
- Physical and psychological safety
There is so much more a parent can do to “protect” their child from falling prey to risk factors that lurk in every environment. Let us guide you in ensuring that your child is positioned for success at every juncture of life. Do everything you can to minimize the presence of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) that make it difficult to thrive. No matter what challenges your family has faced, there is still hope and things can turn around for the good.Join a community of parents who all want their child to have access to the best opportunities in life possible!