The impact of a positive childhood

By Youth Villages on 5th Apr 2024

For decades, childcare providers, doctors, nurses, teachers and researchers have used the Adverse Childhood Experience tool to approach trauma in children and its effect on mental and physical health through adulthood. The study, completed by the Centers for Disease Control and Kaiser Permanente, is a good resource for discussing the ‘bad things’ that can happen throughout childhood and their long-term consequences. The study includes a test with various factors leading to a higher score which can mean worse outcomes in adulthood.

Some of the factors related to our home environment are in our control, but others, such as poverty or the death of a loved one, are not. You may wonder, “Okay, well what next?”

In 2019, lead researcher Dr. Christina Bethell released the findings of a years-long study with Johns Hopkins about positive childhood experiences and the power they have to outweigh, or counteract, negative experiences. Adults who grew up in secure homes are ultimately less likely to experience the negative mental and physical effects of stress in their childhood.

As a parent or caregiver, how can you create more positive childhood experiences?

  1. Provide a safe space for talking and asking questions. Listen to children’s concerns and problems, offering advice when prompted. But really, just by listening without judgment, you help with their worries. This doesn’t have to be at their home; you can provide a space at school, on a team or at church.
  2. Don’t walk away. Children who may be experiencing difficult times at school or with friends can be frustrating to parents. As the adult in their lives, don’t give up on them. Work with them to develop solutions or seek professional help as needed.
  3. Work with children to find ‘their thing.’ We often talk about this as parents, finding your children’s interest and passion, their sport or hobby. This is important well beyond college applications. A sense of belonging keeps children connected and accountable. Connectivity can make children more engaged.
  4. Do something fun with them. Reading a book together, playing a game, or finding a new show to watch is an easy way to connect at home with your children and their friends who may need some extra adult attention.
  5. Prioritize a predictable environment, which creates a sense of security for children. This can be applied to a routine and how parents structure their family’s days, and also their behavior, and ensuring their actions and reactions contribute to peace in the home instead of chaos.

By providing recommendations for Positive Childhood Experiences, we hope to help you talk with your children and be on the lookout for those in the community who may need a little extra help. To learn more about PCEs, visit American Society for the Positive Care for Children.

Youth Villages Specialized Crisis Services has specially trained, master’s level crisis counselors available 24/7 to respond to crisis calls. Crisis staff provide the assessment and evaluation of the child, connecting them with a mental health clinician to help determine the best course of action for the child.  Youth Villages will follow up with parents and providers within 24 hours of the initial crisis call.

Get help! Support services for teens in Middle Tennessee:

  • TN Crisis Hotline (855-CRISIS-1) or 1-855-274-7471
  • TN Crisis Text Line (Text TN to 741-741)
  • Youth Villages Specialized Crisis Hotline (1-866-791-9222)
  • 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline

Youth Villages is one of the largest providers of services to children in Tennessee and a national leader in children’s mental and behavioral health. The organization has been recognized by the Harvard Business School and U.S. News & World Report and was identified by The White House as one of the nation’s most promising results-oriented nonprofit organizations. Learn more at


Join PURE Living Nashville, here’s what you’ll receive:

  • Information and advice that you won’t find in the magazine or on the website.
  • Special Subscribers only offer to local products and services.
  • Early News on Local events.
  • News on local providers and healthcare services.
  • Discounts on seminars and events we run.
  • Early access to our regular competitions and give aways.
  • PLUS our information packed guide to.
All you need to know from Acupuncture to Yoga in this amazing reference source. You’ll get the link to download it as soon as you join PURE Living Nashville.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.