Positive experiences can be life-changing for a child. In a previous installment of this series, I shared how positive experiences with teachers throughout my childhood helped counteract some of the trauma I experienced early in life.
Research shows that adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) can have long-lasting effects, but there are things each of us can do to help the children in our lives deal with that trauma. Those are known as positive childhood experiences (PCEs). In this article, I’ll share what teachers can start doing today to make a lifelong positive impact.
7 Impactful Positive Childhood Experiences
The research into PCEs is fairly new, but a consistent finding is that they produce a particular response in children that is recurring: resilience. Data is also clear that children exposed to PCEs become adults who are more comfortable reaching out for support from friends or medical professionals, which can lead to better mental health outcomes. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University identified seven positive experiences individuals encounter as children that are associated with improved mental health and social connectedness when they become adults.
- talking with family about feelings;
- feeling supported by family during difficult times;
- participating in community traditions, such as athletics;
- sharing a sense of belonging with high school peers;
- receiving the support of friends;
- experiencing care from at least two adults who are not parents; and
- feeling safe and protected by an adult at home.
3 easy ways for teachers to build resilience in students
As you can see, many of the positive experiences children have in life occur outside of the home. So, while you unfortunately can’t control a student’s ACEs, there are things you can do every day to help children build resilience, enabling them to counteract the effects of trauma in the long run. Here are three of them:
This can be as simple as a check-in to see how students are doing. That personal attention may not seem like much to you, but it shows children that you care. Remember, children are positively impacted when at least two caring adults outside of the home are a part of their lives.
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