ACES and Toxic Stress

ACEs are traumatic events that can have lasting negative effects on physical and emotional health and wellbeing. ACEs cause measurably increased risks for physical, mental and lifestyle disadvantages, including increased risk for addiction, cancer and heart, lung and liver disease. Dr Nadine Burke-Harris discusses this below. Take a look!

Toxic stress, as described by Dr Burke-Harris, is the biological response to severe and/or repeated adversity without the buffering support from a caring and trusted adult. 

Protective factors

If your child suffers from ACEs and/or the toxic stress response (i.e. emotionally moving from 0 to 100 over a seemingly minor incident or event), there are a number of things that we can do to support them, including ensuring that:

  • they are consistently getting a full and restful night's sleep. It is recommended that screens are avoided in the hour before bedtime.
  • they have a balanced and nutritious diet
  • they play, exercise and experience healthy social interaction 
  • their experience of education is consistent and positive 
  • the adults in our children's lives (i.e. parents, carers, educators, etc.) are predictable, warm, engaged and kind, and are informed about ACEs and toxic stress and have knowledge of child development

Research has found that the most effective protective factor against ACEs and toxic stress is having a consistently emotionally available adult. We love this short video highlighting the importance of trusted adults in children's lives.