Substance abuse, bullying, poverty, violence, chronic illness— all adverse childhood experiences that can lead to toxic stress in children. Sounds overwhelming, but there are ways from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) to prevent adverse experiences in childhood from causing lifelong trauma. Bloggers like us are teaming together with the American Academy of Pediatrics to spread the word about one method which carries the hashtag #findyour3.
Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) can cause unremitting stress. Termed “toxic stress,” this type of stress will actually change a child’s brain structure. This stress can lead to health and social problems such as depression, substance abuse, diabetes, heart disease, chronic lung and kidney disease, and even unemployment.
Identifying just three people or organizations that kids can turn to for help, can build resilience in the face of adversity. The three can include a parent, grandparent or other relative. But the three do not have to be biologically related. Pediatricians, therapists, teachers, counselors, neighbors, sports coaches, or youth group leaders are all examples of possible positive adult influences. Encourage your own child or children you know to engage in school or community related activities in order to help them to find their three.
For a more comprehensive review of ACEs and the prevention and treatment of toxic stress please see this review article from the NIH (National Institute of Health).
More resources on navigating adversity
You can also read some of our earlier posts for more ways to build resilience in your children and ideas on how to explain scary news to your children. Also, read on how to tell your child about an impending divorce and tips on how to communicate effectively with your young children.
Spread the word #findyour3 #preventACEs
Julie Kardos, MD and Naline Lai, MD
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