Just as there are adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) that play a role in the future success of kids, there are also 7 positive childhood experiences (PCEs) that can offset their damage.
This recent discovery comes from a John Hopkin’s study published in 2019. Researchers were looking to determine if any “protective childhood experiences” could be linked with positive outcomes as adults—increasing resiliency and offsetting some of the trauma or damage caused by adverse childhood experiences such as abuse, a serious accident, witnessing something traumatic, bullying, neglect, dysfunction in the home, etc.
ACEs can influence a person’s mental health, chance of graduating high school, likelihood of being incarcerated, and overall success as an adult. It’s not always possible for parents to prevent their children from experiencing an ACE; however, it is possible for parents to do all they can to help their children experience the 7 PCEs that can counteract the effects of ACEs.
The 7 PCEs determined to promote good mental health, resiliency, and success as adults include:
Being Able to Share Their Feelings with Family
It’s important to let your kids know that it’s okay for them to express their feelings and that you’re there for them to talk to whenever they have something emotional going on. Emotional sharing can also help promote emotional intelligence. It may be difficult for kids to open up at first because they may not even know what they are feeling or why, so to help kids open up about their emotions, it’s important for them to first identify them. For younger kids, this can be done using a feelings list, an emotions wheel, a flipbook, or an emotions app, depending on the age of your child.
Feeling Supported by Family During Difficult Times
When life becomes difficult, it’s important for your kids to know that you’re there for them. This could be as simple as having a family meeting or ensuring your kids have everything they need—giving your kids a chance to reach out for extra support as needed. Letting your children know that you’re on their side and want the best for them when life gets rough, especially during this time of quarantine, can go a long way. Try not to show any fears to your kids but assure them that as the adult you will be there to support them with whatever they need right now, despite how scary times may feel.
Enjoying Participation in Community Traditions
What are some fun community traditions that your family can participate in? Seek out some local community resources and make some plans to participate in the county fair, or the holiday parade, etc. once it is safe to leave home. These traditions give kids a fun, exciting time to look forward to with friends and family, and they are something they will likely look back on for years to come and continue with as adults with families of their own.
Feeling a Sense of Belonging in High School
This is something that may come easier for some kids than others and can be especially difficult for those who’ve experienced an ACE or are entering into a new school or home. Encourage kids to become involved in extracurricular activities. There are a variety of clubs, teams, committees, and groups associated with specific hobbies and interests at most schools. After-school dance lessons, clubs, groups, and sports not offered in school can also provide opportunities for kids to connect with peers who share common interests. Do some digging in your area for some options and encourage children and teens to be social and form new connections.
Feeling Supported by Friends
Just as family support is important, so is the support of friends. Encourage kids to make good decisions when choosing their friends, and help set a positive example by forming healthy, supportive friendships and relationships for kids to model. If a child or teen is struggling socially, seek out a peer support group, buddy bench program, or equivalent to help provide that support.
Having at Least Two Non-Parent Adults Who Genuinely Care
Let’s face it, there are times when kids find it easier to talk to an adult who isn’t a parent. Having at least two non-parent adults who care and are positive influences is important for kids. These could be teachers, mentors, coaches, counselors, other parents, friends, godparents, youth leaders, pastors, church members, etc.
Feeling Safe and Protected by an Adult at Home
Feeling safe and protected by an adult at home goes a long way for kids. This can be difficult for those who must work long hours, so if you are concerned your child may not feel safe and protected by an adult at home, the support of an adult caretaker, trusted friend, or community member are all possible options. Those who are struggling with substance use, an abusive relationship, or abusive patterns can greatly benefit from the help of a counselor or therapist for the family.
Growing into a well-rounded, successful adult is something that every kid deserves a chance of achieving. If you’d like to learn more about getting extra support for your family or the services Idaho Youth Ranch provides, we’d love to speak with you. Contact us to learn more.