If you’re a divorcing parent reading up on the potential negative effects of parental break-ups on children, you may have read about something called adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). There are ten things that are considered traumatic experiences for kids that can cause “toxic stress”, mental and even physical health issues into adulthood. While most involve abuse and neglect, divorce is among them.
Certainly, not all divorces are traumatic for kids. If a divorce isn’t accompanied by any other ACEs, a child can be largely unscathed by it. Having two parents fighting or not speaking in the same home is far more damaging than living apart and working as a co-parenting team.
What are PCEs?
Child development experts have also identified a number of positive childhood experiences (PCEs) that can counteract the effects of ACEs and provide a more stable upbringing for any child. While parents are crucial to ensuring that their child has plenty of PCEs, so are other caregivers, family members and any adults in a child’s life.
- Playtime in a safe environment every day
- Quality time with parents and other caregivers that helps family bonds
- Praise and recognition for their accomplishments and just who they are (as well as acceptance)
- Nurturing, predictable environments that include home, school, daycare and more
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “individual or environmental characteristics, conditions, or behaviors that reduce the effects of stressful life events” can help a child who’s experiencing stress – whether it’s temporary or linked to a longer-term situation.
These and other PCEs may be something to factor into your parenting plan to help ensure that your child feels secure and loved during this time – even if you assume that they do. Having sound legal guidance can help you develop a plan that puts your child’s best interests at the forefront.