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How you can help

It takes a village to build resilience. Learn how you can help reduce the impact of ACEs in your home, workplace, and community.

Individuals

Parents

Service Providers

Educators

Early Childhood Educators

Individuals

Everyone has a role to play to prevent and reduce ACEs.  Strong, active communities provide crucial support. It’s community members like you who can help create the connective community fabric that can help children develop the skills, resources and coping strategies that act as protective factors in times of need.

Build Your Resilience

Parents

Parents can be an essential ally to reduce or prevent ACEs in children. There are a few simple things a parent can do to reduce ACEs below.

Learn

about ACEs and be part of breaking the cycle

Practice

mindfulness (being in the moment)

Develop and maintain

supportive, healthy relationships

Take care

try to get enough sleep, eat healthy food and exercise regularly

Build Resilience in Kids

Building resilience in children is an ongoing, indirect process to build autonomy, interpersonal connections, and self-worth. Help foster resilience in children by incorporating the following into your routines:1,2

Spend quality time together

Get to know their friends

Give them opportunities to try new things

Ask for their help to prepare food to share

Assign them age-appropriate chores

Model calming exercises like art, reading, meditation, and listening to music

Social and Health Service Providers

Service providers often interact with children and adults experiencing the negative effects of ACEs when they are at their most vulnerable. Creating safe spaces without triggering trauma responses can take effort, practice and skill. Module 5 simulates an interaction with a client named Lee, and provides an opportunity for service providers to practice Trauma-Informed and Person-Centered approaches to communication and care.

These 12 skills will help to enable positive interactions with clients. However, these skills may not be appropriate for every client, depending on their risk of harm. 

Provide safety

in your interactions

Manage reactions

minimize signs of discomfort

Be transparent

about your intentions

Be Person centred

following the client’s lead

Communicate limits

of your role

Be a witness

rather than an expert

Honour the person

and their unique story

Be humble

it’s a learning journey

Don’t assume

Ask what you can do to help

Acknowledge your power

work to shift imbalances

Create experiences

of acceptance and openness

Know your values

check in with yourself 

Provide safety

in your interactions

Manage reactions

minimize signs of discomfort

Be transparent

about your intentions

Be Person centred

following the client’s lead

Communicate limits

of your role

Be a witness

rather than an expert

Honour the person

and their unique story

Be humble

it’s a learning journey

Don’t assume

Ask what you can do to help

Acknowledge your power

work to shift imbalances

Create experiences

of acceptance and openness

Know your values

check in with yourself 

Practice how to apply these skills

Truly connecting with a person requires tapping into their uniqueness. No one is just a collection of demographic indicators, and making assumptions about a person’s circumstance almost always leads to misunderstanding. This capstone module for Health and Social Service Providers simulates behaviours and approaches for clients who may have experienced ACEs or other forms of adversity that can be applied in practice. Learners have to think on their feet and make decisions to help a character named Lee.

Educators

Teachers and educators have the power, through their relationships with students and influence on the school environment, to help children grow into resilient adults. Mentally Healthy Schools are places that prevent and reduce risk factors and promote protective factors to foster resilience and build positive mental health for students and educators. Adverse Childhood Experiences are examples of risk factors some children might be dealing with. While mentally healthy schools are essential for these students and other kids who are struggling, they are also important for all students.

Educators create Mentally Healthy Schools when they:

  • Provide welcoming environments
  • Support students to develop self-regulation and self-discipline
  • Focus on strengths and celebrate accomplishments
  • Know students’ needs and the supports that are available

Remember that being curious about children’s experiences and what they are struggling with is not meant to pathologize students or parents. Many factors influence how children behave, feel and interact with those around them.

We support educators efforts to create the conditions for all students to be able to thrive at school, outside of school and for the rest of their lives.

Through action and interaction, educators can develop a positive, mentally healthy environment for students as they learn and develop.

Many of Mentally Healthy Schools elements are echoed in other models. For instance, The Compassionate Schools1 model contains behaviours and principles that help develop student resilience:

Always empower students

Provide unconditional positive regard

Maintain high expectations

Check assumptions, observe, and question

Be a relationship coach

Provide guided opportunities for helpful participation

This work can be hard, but you’re not alone. Don’t try to be a one-person support system. It’s important to know where to find support for yourself and for students who may be struggling [hyperlink to resource page]. If you are worried that a child is being harmed or at risk of harm you should follow your school board’s policies immediately to ensure safety for that student.

To learn more about how you can create a mentally healthy school

Click Here

Early Childhood Educators

Stress is a normal part of childhood but excessive, prolonged stress can interfere with the normal development of young children. Early childhood educators can play a critical role in mitigating the adverse effects of stress on children including excessive stress associated with Adverse Childhood Experiences and other challenging life events when they:

Ensure that supportive and caring relationships with children and their families are their number one priority. By maintaining intentional and respectful communication with families, early childhood educators can become more informed of the child’s family circumstances. The early childhood educator can then adapt the environment and interactions in response to any changes that a child may be experiencing within their family context.

Are emotionally and physically available when children are showing that they are in need of a supportive adult.

Connect with each child as a unique individual and build upon their strengths and competencies.

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Engage in warm and responsive interactions with children.

Provide nurturing and inclusive environments that offer children a sense of belonging and opportunities to engage in positive interactions with others.

Cultivate healthy social-emotional connections by acknowledging children’s feelings, responding positively to their cues and supporting children to co-regulate their emotions and actions.

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Integrate practices that model and build resiliency.

Use flexible thinking to meet up with children’s minds and experiences. Many factors influence how children feel, and engage with others. Consider the “why” behind behaviour. What could children’s behaviour be trying to communicate to you? How could you respond to support the “why”?

Invest in self-care. Recognize your own stress and find ways to reduce it.

1. Wolpow, R., Johnson, M.M., Hertel, R., Kincaid, S.O. (2016). The Heart of Learning and Teaching: Compassion, Resiliency, and Academic Success. Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) Compassionate Schools.