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5 Protective Factors Series: Social and Emotional Competence of Children

Social and Emotional Competence of Children

About this factor CSSP says, “The social and emotional development of young children plays a critical role in their cognitive skill building, social competence, mental health, and overall wellbeing. The nature of this development is deeply affected by the quality of a child’s relationships with his or her primary attachment figures, usually parents. Healthy development is threatened when families of young children face multiple problems and stressors.”

Father-specific resources address the unique contribution of fathers to the social and emotional development of children. Fathers serve, for example, as a role model for boys and a relational model for girls.

CSSP goes on to point out, “Social and emotional development [is] highly dependent on the quality of a young child’s primary relationships…it is increasingly common to encounter infants and young children whose attachment to a primary caregiver has been severely limited, disrupted, or arrested. These children are at risk for serious development problems…”

These facts are not lost on the thousands of practitioners that NFI has trained through the years. They include practitioners in corrections, education, military, workplace, government, and non-profit settings to name a few.

These facts are also not lost on researchers who have studied the negative impact of father absence and concluded that father involvement is critical to child well-being. NFI’s programs and resources combat father absence, pure and simple. In doing so they help children develop social and emotional competence through increased and competent father involvement, thus reducing children’s stressors and the risk of limited, disrupted, or arrested attachments to their primary caregivers that lead to short- and long-term developmental problems.

As a way to further address this factor, NFI has created mother-specific resources that address the relationships between fathers and mothers. The most significant relationship in a child’s life is the relationship between his or her mother and father. This relationship is the blueprint a child follows for developing his or her own relationships. Improving this relationship is critical to prevent disruptions between children and their primary caregivers and to intervene and repair after disruptions. Because mothers are most often the primary caregiver of children—and certainly in cases where the parents are not romantically involved or living together—they need resources that help them better understand the importance of father involvement in the lives of their children and how to effectively co-parent.

NFI’s Mom as Gateway™ booster session was NFI’s first foray into this arena, and it has been extremely well received with several thousand organizations acquiring it. It helps mothers understand “maternal gatekeeping” behavior and, in doing so, become more willing to accept increased father involvement as long as it is safe for them and their children.

Because of the popularity of this booster session, NFI developed Understanding Dad™, a program that helps mothers address maternal gatekeeping behavior in a more comprehensive manner. The program also builds practical communication skills mothers can use to improve the relationship they have with the father of their children.

Dad’s League has access to all the NFI resources mentioned in this article. Contact Antione Harvis with questions – 334-749-8400 or email at