Protective Factors and How They Help Strengthen Family Bonds

Safe Alliance strives to be client-centered and trauma-informed when supporting survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. These issues impact entire families so Safe Alliance works to strengthen family bonds by increasing protective factors.

The term "protective factors" refers to a set of characteristics that can help reduce the impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences and increase the health and well-being of children and families. They are traits or resources that help people cope with stress and overcome challenges in life. Essentially, protective factors are positive elements that have positive effects on children, families, and the community. (

At Safe Alliance, our staff and volunteers are trained on protective factors, and we build programming that aligns with these factors to support survivors and their families.

In this blog, we are going to breakdown the six key protective factors and the importance of each working together to build healthy family bonds and help to weather the challenges and storms that come at every family at one time or another.
  1. Social Connections
  2. Concrete Support in Times of Need
  3. Parental Resilience
  4. Nurturing and Attachment
  5. Social Emotional Competence of Children
  6. Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development
  Social connections help families stay strong, get through the hard times and enjoy family life. Families can have many different types of social connections that provide different types of support. Support should be positive someone that is there for you, treats you well and helps you be the best person you can be.

What is the most critical thing you need as a parent when unexpected things happen? Here are some responses from families gathered by the Children's Trust Fund Alliance.
  • "Having someone available who I can ask for what I need with no judgement and where they are truly willing to help."
  • "The need can change as children grow. As a parent of teenagers, it's meaningful to have positive affirmations from others and someone to talk to."
  • "Having the opportunity to just take a break."
2. Concrete support in times of need
You've likely heard the saying "It takes a village to raise a child".  EVERY family, at some point, needs help whether that is financially, socially and/or emotionally. Sometimes the challenges are minor, but other times they may be critical to the family's survival.
Depending on a family's resources, some may be able to access the support they need to weather the storm. Others may need help getting connected to those who can offer them what they need to handle the challenges they are facing such as the resources available at Safe Alliance. Our Greater Charlotte Hope Line is available 24/7. This free resource is confidential, safe, and staffed by highly trained advocates who have the knowledge and empathy necessary to help those who call. If you are in need of support for parenting, domestic violence or sexual assault give the Greater Charlotte Hope Line a call at 980.771.4673.

An additional resource for families in the Charlotte Mecklenburg area is Department of Community Resources | Mecklenburg County Government ( On the site, you can search for resources for food and nutrition, housing, Medicaid, child support and more.

Resilience is the ability to recover from difficult life experiences and be strengthened by an event or transformed by those experiences. Since many of Safe Alliance clients are also parents we help them to build resilience so they can move forward and build a violence-free life for their family.
Resilient parents have empathy for themselves and others and are able to keep a positive attitude, solve problems creatively, and take life's events in stride. They are able to "bounce back" from negative experiences. Resilience isn't about how many bad things you experience, it's about how you respond to them.

How does it look?
  • Parental resilience might come in the form of requesting and accepting support to meet basic needs.
  • When parents support each other at critical moments to promote self-care.
  • Celebrating children's strengths and milestones as they grow through challenges.
The emotional tie along with a pattern of positive interactions between the parent and the child that develops over time.

What are some ways you as a parent, can model nurturing and support to your children?
  • Snuggling
  • Active listening
  • Allow space for emotions and confirm them
  • Engaging in their interests
  • For families with multiple kids: One-on-one relaxing time in nature
  • Hugs are always important
How do you help your child celebrate who they are as a person? How do you help them celebrate and respect the uniqueness of others who may seem different or unfamiliar?
  • Praise verbally
  • Acknowledge their interests
  • Acknowledge what makes them special (talents, abilities, attributes, etc.)
  • Celebrate the uniqueness of their identity
At Safe Alliance's Clyde & Ethel Dickson Domestic Violence Shelter, our victim and children advocates work with families on building a routine such as managing pick up times, bed times and meal times. "Children need consistency," said Idamae Safe Alliance Children's Program Manager.
Having family and child interactions will help children develop the ability to communicate clearly, recognize and regulate emotions, and establish relationships.

Here are some ways you can help manage your child's emotions while helping them to build traits like resilience and grit:
  • Pause to give them direct attention
  • Create a safe space for expression and to talk
  • Give them some time to reflect
  • Practice and model coping strategies or do breathing exercises
  • Label expressed emotions and talk through them together
  • Seek outside help if needed
Parents who have some knowledge of basic child development are likely to have more realistic expectations of their children. Parents are better able to provide the appropriate amount of nurturing, supervision and guidance.

For parents with toddler and school-aged children, here are some examples to promote and model healthy development:
  • Family style meals
  • Playgroups/playdates
  • Learning enhancements (dance, sports, music)
  • Inform myself of ageappropriate expectations
A resource from lists age-appropriate chores for toddlers through teens. Assigning chores to children teaches them responsibility, instills self-confidence, and helps them grow and learn how to take care of themselves and their family's home. Research also shows it prepares them for being on their own as grown-ups and has an overall positive impact on their well-being.

Source: Children's Trust Fund Alliance

Tagged as families, protective factors, safe alliance.

In an emergency please dial 911

Call the Greater Charlotte Hope Line 24/7 for info on parenting, domestic violence and sexual assault 980.771.4673.

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