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Minimise the impact and cultivate healing!

Adverse childhood experiences, minimise impact

Welcome to the Child Behaviour Blog- 

Our journey through childhood is full of unique experiences shaping who we become. When I began my career at 18, working with children in a local County Council Day Nursery, I was introduced to a diverse group of young children from different backgrounds.

Many of these children were victims of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). Sadly, in varying degrees, their circumstances had taken away the usual child-like joy and wonder of life and replaced this with challenging, worrying behaviours.

Their emotional scars could be seen on their faces as fear, nervousness, unease, and sadness in their eyes.

In this blog, we will look at what ACEs are, how they affect children, and what we can do to avoid their lifelong negative impact.

Being a parent is the hardest and best job in the world.
It's about guiding children to be the best versions of themselves.

The groundbreaking Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) study, led by Dr. Vincent Felitti in 1990, revolutionised our understanding and approach to managing childhood trauma.

ACEs are defined by childhood traumas, including physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, witnessing violence, substance misuse, mental and physical illness, parental separation or divorce, and having an incarcerated household member. These experiences can have profound and lasting effects on a child's development, health and well-being.

Children who have experienced ACEs often struggle with emotional regulation, have challenging behaviour, don't reach their full potential, and struggle forming trusting relationships. 

As parents, caregivers, educators, and members of society, it is our collective responsibility to create nurturing environments that foster healing and understanding. Instead of merely reacting to challenging behaviours, we need to delve deeper and address the root causes underlying them.

Here are three key factors that play a pivotal role in minimising the impact of ACEs and cultivating healing. 

MINIMISING Impact and Cultivating Healing

Create Safety and Stability

We can help children through adverse childhood experiences, such as divorce and separation, by creating a safe and stable environment, where children feel secure, loved, and protected.

Creating regular quality time together, routines, and schedules for meals and bedtimes provides a sense of familiarity and predictability. These routines act as a stabilising force, reducing the disruptive impact of adverse experiences and allowing children to feel secure and supported.

Open and honest communication, tailored to their age, plays a vital role in helping children understand the reasons behind divorce. which will hopefully alleviate confusion or self-blame.

By fostering a safe and stable environment, we lay the foundation for trust, understanding, and healing. This approach empowers children to navigate the challenges of adverse childhood experiences with resilience and sets the stage for their overall well-being and growth.


Build Trust

Building trust in any relationship is vital, especially during challenging times when trust may be fragile. In the hope of promoting healing and helping children to overcome the wounds caused by ACEs, cultivating trusting connections becomes paramount. 

We can build trust and restore relationships by offering unwavering support, active listening, genuine empathy, and understanding.

By fostering this trusting relationship, we provide the invaluable support they need to build resilience and move through difficult times.

Trust is vital to the healing process, enabling children to rebuild their sense of security, develop resilience, and ultimately thrive.

Emotional Support

Supporting children's emotional well-being is vital in life, especially when they have experienced adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), like having a parent in prison. Creating a safe space where they can freely express their emotions without judgment is essential for their journey of healing and growth.

Encouraging healthy coping strategies becomes even more important in such circumstances. For instance, introducing deep breathing exercises, journaling, or engaging in creative outlets like art or music can provide valuable outlets for children to process and express their emotions. This allows them to release pent-up feelings, gain self-awareness, and find inner strength during challenging times.

For example, a child with a parent in prison may feel a mix of emotions such as sadness, anger, or confusion. Emotional support helps them navigate the complexities of their situation, fostering their healing and empowering them to develop resilience despite the challenges they face.

As parents, every action we take to minimise the effects of adverse childhood experiences will help our children grow up resilient happy and thriving.

It is not always about what happens to us that leave a lasting negative impact, but how it made us feel and how parents manage to navigate through it.

By being conscious parents we can move our children beyond their adverse experiences and nurturing their transition towards a healthier, more joyful adulthood. As parents, our love and presence can become the catalyst for breaking cycles of trauma and minimise the impact and cultivate healing!

All the best 

Ruth Edensor

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