How ACEs Impact a Child's Health and Well Being
Research has shown that experiencing repeated adversity as a child can lead to long-lasting effects into adulthood. Children who are exposed to adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) can exhibit physical, emotional and psychological problems later on that can impact nearly every aspect of life. Toxic stress can affect how our brains develop and even our biological and genetic makeup.
Experts have identified 10 different ACEs that are related to either abuse, neglect, or overall household dysfunction. Exposure to ACEs is extremely common; nearly 25% of all New Jersey residents have experienced at least one ACE, and 18% have experienced two or more. ACEs are associated with an increased risk for the leading adult causes of death, including cancer, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s and suicide.
The 7 C’s of resilience can help counteract early ACEs:
1) Confidence – Believing in one's own abilities.
2) Competence – Understanding one's skills and completing tasks successfully.
3) Connection – Building a support system by building connections with others.
4) Character – Demonstrating a clear sense of right and wrong.
5) Contribution – Allowing children to help others feels good and builds confidence.
6) Coping – Learning healthy coping strategies to deal with life’s ups and downs.
7) Control – Teaching children self-control and decision-making
To learn more about the 7Cs and ways to use them, see these suggestions from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
While exposure to ACEs can have devastating consequences, our brains and bodies are always in the process of changing and evolving. We can offset or even negate the effects of ACEs through nurturing and empathetic relationships with caring adults.