Positive Childhood Experiences (PCEs)
What are Positive Childhood Experiences (PCEs)?
One study found these made a difference:
Being able to talk with family members about their feelings;
Feeling that their families stood by them during difficult times;
Enjoying participating in community traditions;
Feeling a sense of belonging in secondary school;
Feeling supported by friends;
Having at least two non-parent adults who take genuine interest in them; and
Feeling safe and protected by an adult in their home.
The study from Johns Hopkins University found that adults who report more positive childhood experiences (PCEs) are less likely to suffer from depression or poor mental health – and are more likely to have healthy relationships.
Another study shows that children who do chores have fewer behaviour problems, are more engaged in school, enjoy better mental health in later life and are part of a stronger family due to shared responsibility. “Kids – like all of us – really benefit from the feeling that others depend on them,” says Bob Sege, a pediatrician and professor of medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine who studies ACEs and resilience. “Chores may not always be fun, but the sense of being needed is so important. Kids with ACEs often struggle with feelings of being devalued or worthless. Contributing to chores that others rely on allows them to build up their sense of self-worth.”
Then there are PCEs when children are allowed to play. Giving children time for free play provides them with opportunities to communicate, to collaborate, to fail, to learn, to problem-solve which helps them to become confident and successful adults in a global society. A study shows that over the past 50 years, as there has been a decline in children's freedom, there's been an increase in responses on standardised questionnaires that indicate both depression and anxiety disorders. Specifically, an eight-fold increase on depression, and five-to-ten-fold increase on generalized anxiety disorder.
Another study shows the value of a strong family narrative. Research shows that children who know a lot about their family tend to be more resilient: higher levels of self-esteem, more self-control, better family functioning, lower levels of anxiety, fewer behavioral problems, and better chances for good outcomes when faced with challenges.
Strong, supportive family and friends, good relationships, healthy play and a sense of belonging. It's not rocket science. How can we encourage these?
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