A person’s childhood experiences can have a significant impact on their behavior when young, and also later, as adults. This is because the early years are a critical time for brain development, shaping the way a person thinks, feels, and behaves.
Early Traumatic Experiences, sometimes called Adverse Childhood Events (ACES), include abuse, neglect and exposure to violence. These lead to a range of negative outcomes, including depression, anxiety, and a heightened risk of developing mental health disorders.
On the flip-side, Early Positive Experiences, such as supportive and loving relationships, lead to a range of wonderful outcomes, including increased resilience, self-esteem, and the ability to form healthy relationships.
It’s not feasible or necessary to avoid all negative experiences. In fact, it’s important for children to have a range of experiences, both positive and negative. What matters is that they’re kept safe and supported by the adults and the community around them. After all, it’s during childhood that one’s beliefs, values, and attitudes are most influenced. These are the factors that foster healthy behavior and effective decision-making.
For these reasons and more, it is essential to provide children with a nurturing and supportive environment.
HOW TO PROVIDE POSITIVE CHILDHOOD EXPERIENCES:
Ensure children are safe and protected from harm. This includes providing a stable and secure home, school and community environment, as free of violence as possible.
Stay tuned to a child’s emotional needs and provide them with affection, attention, and support. Listen to their concerns, validate their feelings, and offer constructive feedback and encouragement.
Give children opportunities to explore their interests and talents. Encourage them to try new things.
Provide children with a range of experiences and exposure to diverse cultures and viewpoints. This will help expand their horizons and understand the world around them.
Instil a sense of responsibility, self-discipline, and resilience. These traits will help them navigate life’s challenges and develop a strong sense of self-worth.
These investments will have immediate and long lasting benefits!
DID YOU KNOW?
Children and youth make up 21.7% of Waterloo Region’s total population. That’s 114,645 children and youth! By creating a supportive community for K-W’s younger generation, we not only help our children enjoy their childhood, we also help set them (and us) up for success in their later years.
Many children and youth’s mental health suffered as a result of the pandemic. Prior to the pandemic, it was estimated that approximately 10-20% of children and adolescents worldwide experienced mental health disorders. Research from The Hospital for Sick Children shows a deterioration in mental health amongst a large majority of children and youth during the COVID-19 pandemic. Greater stress from social isolation, including both the cancellation of important events and the loss of in-person social interactions, was strongly associated with this decline. As the pandemic passes, let’s prioritize healthy connections for our young folks.
These three local organizations offer fantastic services for Kitchener-Waterloo’s children and families. If you haven’t checked them out, here’s your chance:
-post by Midtown Therapist, Ummehani Rehmani.