This post is made possible with support from the American Academy of Pediatrics through a cooperative agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. All opinions are my own.
Last year I discussed how each of us can Be The Three for a child dealing with ACEs. Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are potentially traumatic events that occur in childhood. Examples are abuse (physical, emotional, or sexual), neglect (physical or emotional), and household dysfunction (mental illness, domestic violence, divorce, incarcerated relative, substance abuse). Exposure to ACEs can increase the risk later in life of alcoholism, smoking, drug abuse, depression, heart disease, liver disease, STIs, and teen pregnancy; plus suicide attempts or death by suicide.
Not only can there be psychological effects of ACEs on young minds, but children who have experienced ACEs can also have long-term health complications that can come from recurring exposure to ACEs.
The major goal of last year’s post was making sure you “have your three”. These are people that are there to help uplift you, encourage you, and be an additional support system. They create your safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments (SSNREs) that help you prevent or mitigate the effects of ACEs.
Today, I want to discuss how to ensure that your children and those in your life are supported if they experience ACEs.
2020 was an unprecedented year with a global pandemic that impacted millions around the world. Many people think that only adults were affected, but there were just as many children affected. Parents became unemployed and that stress ended up trickling down to children. Many weren’t able to get meals because they weren’t in school, signs of neglect and abuse weren’t being recognized due to everyone isolating from one another, and household stress increased at alarming rates.
Stress is normal and actually can be a good part of helping children learn to cope with things that come up in their lives. But our bodies are only able to deal with so much stress at a time. When a child is dealing with stress for extended periods of time, this stress can become “toxic” and can impact and shape their lives into adulthood.
During this past year, I’ve been discussing with my daughters the importance of having their own “three.” My oldest daughter is turning 19 this year and my youngest daughter is in middle school. These are both pivotal times in their lives where they have so many things going on and changes that will develop them as they become adults. They need all the support they can get.
I’ve had the chance to be there for one of my daughter’s friends when she was dealing with some tough situations and wasn’t sure how to discuss it with her parents. With her permission, I was able to speak up for her, and her parents swiftly took action and she’s getting the help she needs now. That one conversation may help her not have to deal with lasting effects that could have carried on for the rest of her life, and I was happy that she was comfortable coming to talk with me.
That’s just one example. We all have a role to play in providing better futures for children. No matter where you live or who you are, you can play a role in building better outcomes. To learn more visit here.