Parenting Tweens and Teens

Every teen needs a caring adult to help guide them to make healthy decisions. That is why Berkshire United Way invests in programs and activities that support youth and families that build protective factors. Protective factors are conditions or attributes (skills, strengths, resources, supports or coping strategies) that children, youth, and families have that help eliminate risk. Think of them as ingredients, that when combined with a caring bond between parents and child, result in a strong, healthy family.














Examples of protective factors include:

  • Social and Emotional Competence of Children = Children learn to talk about and handle feelings appropriately.
  • Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development = Parents know how children grow and learn, and they understand how to manage that growth.
  • Social Connections = Parents have friends.
  • Parental Resilience = Parents can overcome hard times and rebound.
  • Concrete Support in Times of Need = Parents know where to turn for help.

We all want our youth to make good decisions, which means lowering risk factors and raising protective factors. That’s why it’s important to talk with your kids often.









Caption: A billboard depicting local youth engaged in conversation with Katrina Mattson of Tapestry.

This is one of three billboards in Pittsfield, which are a part of Berkshire United Way’s, “Talk With Your Kids Often,” campaign.

You may have heard us say that young people need caring adults to be positive influences in their lives; science and research support this idea. The Search Institute, a leader and partner for organizations around the world in discovering what kids need to succeed says, “Regardless of age, children need parents. Indeed, across multiple studies, it appears that the quality of the parent-child relationship is one of the more important factors in determining what kind of behaviors and attitudes adolescents adopt across domains such as health, education, reproductive behaviors, social interactions, and problem behaviors.”

It is important to appreciate that adolescence is its own distinct time between childhood and adulthood, and that it’s important to honor this developmental stage. Young people often hear confusing messages like “Grow up!” or on the other end, “You’re still just a kid!” when what they really need are caring and supportive role models who share their expectations and focus on the positive things our young people are doing.

For more information about protective/risk factors and healthy adolescent development, visit:

For local, family-friendly and free/low cost activities, visit our community partners at:

Other questions about resources for parents? Please contact the Coordinator of Positive Youth Development, Kat Toomey at or 442-6948 x15.




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