ACEs, Trauma, & Resiliency



Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)

The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study showed that children who are exposed to clusters of traumatic experiences are at high risk for developing mental and physical health problems over their lifespan. Clusters of ACEs highlight some form of underlying pathogenic parenting.  For example, children in high-conflict family courts routinely experience 6+ out of the original 10 ACEs. Some of the ACEs these children experience include: 1) living with a an impaired caregiver , 2) enduring intense and prolonged psychological abuse and 3) neglect, 4) witnessing domestic abuse, 5) suffering in the middle of a prolonged, high conflict divorce, and 6) losing a loving, nurturing parent.


 Traumatic/Toxic Stress

Clusters of ACEs in the absence of the protection of the targeted parent, induce prolonged and dangerously high levels of stress hormones in children. This is called toxic stress.  Toxic stress places an intolerable burden on a child’s vulnerable developing systems and ultimately causes stress-related physical and mental illnesses. Watch the following video for a great description of toxic stress. And remember that children need at least one healthy parent to turn toxic stress into tolerable stress.



Resiliency and The Science of Hope

Resilience is the ability to bounce back from adversity. Research shows that children can tolerate a lot of stress if at least one parent provides a safe and nurturing environment. Resiliency reduces the effects of ACEs.

Resilience is role modeled by parents who...

1.  ...know how to solve problems, have healthy adult relationships, and build healthy relationships with their children.

 2. attention to their children and respond to their needs. 

3. ...have family, friends and/or neighbors who support and help the family.

4.  ...prioritize meeting all of their children's needs including physical, mental, emotional, and psycho-social.

5. their child manage emotions and communicate feelings and needs.

Targeted parents are the single greatest source of resiliency and hope for children who are born into a family with a high-conflict parent.