ACEs or Adverse Childhood Experiences

ACEs or Adverse Childhood Experiences are serious childhood traumas that result in toxic stress that can harm a child’s developing brain.  This toxic stress may prevent a child from learning, playing with other children in a healthy way and can also result in long-term health problems.  Some examples of ACEs include: emotional abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, incarcerated household member, parental separation, household substance abuse, household mental illness, and even bullying.

Some ways that ACEs affect children is that it can affect how they learn, problem solve, or respond to situations, which can cause problems in school.  It may also lower their tolerance for stress, which may result in fighting, checking out or being defiant.  Sometimes it results in children having difficulty making friends and maintaining relationships.  Exposure to ACEs in childhood may increase risky behavior such as smoking, illicit drug use, unprotected sex, etc.  

So, how can adults prevent and heal ACEs?  Resilience is key.  Resilience is the quality that allows some people to be knocked down by life and come back at least as strong as before. Rather than letting difficulties or failure overcome them and drain their resolve, they find a way to rise. (Psychology Today)

Here are some ways you can help promote resilience (Adapted from ACEs Connection):

Nurture & protect kids as much as possible: be a source of safety and support

Help children express mad, sad & hard feelings: Helping kids find ways to share, talk and process these feelings helps.  Our kids learn from us.

Move & Play: Throw a ball, dance, move inside or outside for fun, togetherness and to ease stress.  

Make Eye Contact: Look at kids. It says, “I see you.  I value you.  You matter.  You’re not alone.”

For more information on ACEs and Resilience inquire about our Mentoring  Through Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs).

For more info, watch our recorded webinar for Bigs.

Watch today at:  Mentoring Through Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)

Gayla Jensen, MSW, Trauma-Informed Care Specialist

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