Early Years – Adverse Childhood Experiences – Short description
What are ACEs?
ACEs is an acronym that stands for Adverse Childhood Experiences which are things that can happen in young person’s life that result in a negative outcome later on in life. They are common, with almost 50% of people living in England having 1 ACE and 8% having 4 or more.
What kind of things might be adverse experiences and what role do they play?
Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are stressful events occurring in childhood, including physical, sexual or emotional abuse, neglect, a family member with physical or mental ill-health, death of a caregiver, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, separated or divorced parents, bullying or any other experience that might result in toxic stress.
Toxic stress can derail healthy brain development, interfering with a young person’s ability to adapt, manage and regulate emotions. This may result in young people trying to find other ways of managing toxic stress by taking up health harming behaviours.
What can teachers do to mitigate the impact of ACEs and reduce negative outcomes?
Teachers, through the nature of their work, are well positioned to provide support to young people that have been exposed to high levels of toxic stress. A relatively simple but important way in which teachers can begin to support a young person’s well-being is to first learn and understand more about mental health and wellbeing. Research has shown that a relationship with one trusted adult during childhood can mitigate the impacts of ACEs on mental and physical wellbeing.
3 top tips!
Developing positive relationships can help to normalise a child’s disrupted body and brain stress response systems and develop self-regulation
Acknowledge the difference between consequences for inappropriate behaviour and punishments.
Use different approaches to behavioural management (not just reacting to the behaviour) to help children with ACEs learn to regulate their emotions and behaviour