ACE`s (adverse childhood experiences)

As a foster carer, you may encounter children who have experienced adverse childhood events (ACEs). ACEs are traumatic or stressful events that occur before the age of 18 and can have a significant impact on a child’s development and well-being. It’s important for foster carers to understand the effects of ACEs and how they can support children who have experienced them.

ACEs can include physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, neglect, parental divorce, domestic violence, or substance abuse in the household. Children who experience ACEs may have difficulty forming healthy relationships, may struggle with mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, and may be at higher risk for chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

It’s important for foster carers to understand that the effects of ACEs are not always immediately visible. Children may not express their feelings or experiences directly, and they may not understand the impact that these events have had on their lives. Foster carers should create a safe and supportive environment for children to express themselves and should provide appropriate emotional and psychological support.

One way to support children who have experienced ACEs is to help them build resilience. Resilience is the ability to bounce back from difficult experiences and to adapt to new situations. Foster carers can help children build resilience by providing a stable and consistent environment, setting clear boundaries and expectations, and encouraging healthy coping mechanisms such as exercise, mindfulness, and creative activities.

Building resilience in children can help them bounce back from adversity and cope with difficult situations. Here are five steps that foster carers and parents can take to help build resilience in children:

  1. Encourage a Growth Mindset: A growth mindset is the belief that intelligence, abilities, and talents can be developed through effort and hard work. Encouraging children to develop a growth mindset can help them approach challenges with a positive attitude and a willingness to learn. Foster carers can praise children’s effort rather than just their achievements, and can help children set achievable goals to work towards.
  2. Foster Positive Relationships: Positive relationships with family members, peers, and other supportive adults can provide children with a sense of belonging and support. Foster carers can help children build positive relationships by encouraging social activities, providing opportunities for family bonding, and connecting children with community resources and support networks.
  3. Teach Coping Strategies: Coping strategies such as mindfulness, relaxation techniques, and problem-solving skills can help children manage stress and anxiety. Foster carers can help children develop coping strategies by teaching them breathing exercises, mindfulness techniques, or offering positive affirmations.
  4. Encourage Physical Activity: Physical activity can help children manage stress, improve mood, and build physical resilience. Foster carers can encourage children to engage in physical activity by scheduling regular exercise or outdoor playtime, and by modeling a healthy lifestyle.
  5. Provide Opportunities for Independence: Encouraging children to develop independence and take on age-appropriate responsibilities can help build their confidence and self-esteem. Foster carers can provide children with opportunities to take on responsibilities around the home, make their own choices, and problem-solve independently.

Building resilience in children takes time and effort, but it can have a positive impact on their overall well-being and success in life. By following these steps and providing a supportive and nurturing environment, foster carers and parents can help children develop the resilience they need to face life’s challenges.

Children who have experienced ACEs may have difficulty with emotional regulation and may struggle to manage their emotions. They may also have difficulty forming healthy attachments with caregivers, which can make it challenging for them to feel safe and secure in new environments.

As a foster carer, it’s important to understand the impact that ACEs can have on a child’s behaviour and to provide consistent and compassionate care. This can involve creating a safe and supportive environment, setting clear boundaries and expectations, and providing opportunities for the child to express themselves and their emotions.

It’s also important for foster carers to prioritize their own well-being when supporting children who have experienced ACEs. Caring for a child who has experienced trauma can be emotionally challenging, and it’s important for foster carers to have access to support and resources to help them manage their own stress and emotions.

If you are a foster carer and are concerned about a child who may have experienced ACEs, there are resources available to help. Speak with the child’s social worker or healthcare provider for more information and support. Remember, with the right support and care, children who have experienced ACEs can still lead happy and healthy lives.