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Written by: Hannah Bradford and Kalin Goble, M.S.

National Guard and Reservist families experience military life in a unique way as compared to their active duty counterparts. Most National Guard and Reservist families do not live on or near military bases like active duty service members do. Living near a military base provides access to a community of other military families and providers who understand the culture of military life. 

Social support within the military community and access to empathetic providers who are experienced in working with military families are vital to healthy coping and reintegration within the family system. This lack of community support can be an obstacle for National Guard and Reservist families, especially during times of deployment, reintegration, or other family transitions (Pinna et al., 2017).

A framework called Positive Parenting has been shown to be effective in supporting children’s healthy adjustment in times of deployment and reintegration (Pinna, et al., 2017). Through positive parenting, children experience stronger mental health, improved emotional and cognitive functioning, better academic achievements, fewer behavioral problems, and even happier and healthier adulthood outcomes (Handman, n.d.).

What is Positive Parenting?

Simply put, positive parenting is a framework in which parents guide a child’s behavior through encouragement, warmth, kindness, and love. The goal is to convey the message to children that they matter, they are inherently good, and that they are loved and supported (Handman, n.d.). 

The acronym PRIDE illustrates five skills that parents can use within the positive parenting framework: 

Praise: Sharing approval of something the child did.

  • Praise provides an acknowledgement of the child’s strengths while also setting expectations for future behavior. When a child is praised, it builds their self-esteem and reinforces the good behavior, making them more likely to do it again (Handman, n.d.). 
  • Example: “You did such a good job sharing your toys with your friends.”

Reflection: Repeating back a child’s statement.

  • Reflections encourage the child to engage in conversation and help them feel heard. They can also be a tool to support language development (Handman, n.d.)
  • Example: 
    • Child: That car is fast.
    • Parent: That car is so fast! OR
    • Parent: That red car is moving so fast!

Imitation: Matching a child’s way of interacting or playing.

  • This helps children feel like their parents are interested in them while promoting social development. The child will feel comfortable imitating the parent’s actions as a result, creating an opportunity to practice interacting with others in appropriate ways (Handman, n.d.).
  • Example: Playing tea party along with your child. 

Description: Narrating a child’s behavior.

  • Describing a child’s actions shows the child that the parent cares about what they are doing. This promotes self-esteem, increases focus, and teaches children how to vocalize new concepts (Handman, n.d.)
  • Example: “You are drawing a colorful picture of the sky!”

Enjoyment: Expressing positive emotions during parent-child interactions.

  • Nonverbal and verbal signs of enjoyment communicate to the child that the parent likes spending time with them. This strengthens parent-child relationships and promotes positive emotions (Handman, n.d.).
  • Example: “I am having such a great time with you today.”

For specific examples of these skills and a more detailed description of positive parenting, review the full UC Davis Health article on five positive parenting techniques to help your child thrive: 

What can providers do?

In order to best support National Guard and Reservist families, providers can offer parents information on positive parenting techniques, using PRIDE as a resource. Providers may also give parents information on the free programs offered through the THRIVE project. THRIVE is offered by the Clearinghouse for Family Readiness at Penn State, funded by the Department of Defense as an effort to best support military families. These programs are available at no cost to military and civilian families, providing assistance to parents of children ages birth to 18. Providers and parents can visit to learn more.



Handman, R. (n.d.). The Power of Positive Parenting. UC Davis Health.  

Pinna, K. L. M., Hanson, S., Zhang, N., & Gewirtz, A. H. (2017). Fostering resilience in 

National Guard and Reserve families: A contextual adaptation of an 

evidence-based parenting program. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 87(2), 


Father giving son high five. Parent child relationship concept
Photo By kieferpix/ Adobe Stock

Additional Resources

  • THRIVE Parenting Programs 

  • General information and resources for Reservists