Experiences we have early in our lives and particularly in our early childhoods have a huge impact on how we grow and develop, our physical and mental health and our thoughts, feelings and behaviour. Two important factors to think about when considering our mental wellbeing, are the quality of our attachment relationships and our experience of ACEs.
Attachment refers to the type of relationships we have had with our parents or carers early in our lives. It is the emotional bond that forms between a parent and child from birth and has a huge impact on our development. The way a parent or carer responds to their child will impact on the child’s attachment style. This attachment style forms the basis for how we build future relationships with others and also how we feel about ourselves and other people. If we have experienced a relationship with a parent or carer which has been positive, we will develop a positive pattern for other relationships as well as positive feelings about ourselves and others. But sometimes how children are cared for is not so positive, for various reasons, and this can make it harder for children as they grow to make and maintain positive relationships in the future, manage their feelings and behaviour, or feel good about themselves or others. When our early attachments have been negative and these lead us to go on to have difficulties with relationships and our mental wellbeing, this can sometimes be described as attachment difficulties.
Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)
Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are “highly stressful, and potentially traumatic, events or situations that occur during childhood and/or adolescence. They can be a single event, or prolonged threats to, and breaches of, the young person’s safety, security, trust or bodily integrity.” (Young Minds, 2018). ACEs include:
Just like attachment, experiencing ACEs can have an impact on our future physical and mental health, and often ACEs can be barriers to healthy attachment relationships forming for children. Some of the effects of ACEs on our physical and mental health are:
Some of the other things exposure to ACEs can impact, are:
Difficulties coping with emotions safely without causing harm to self or others.
(Manchester University - NHS Foundations Trust)
For an Introduction to Adverse Childhood Experiences Early Trauma Online Learning and Training follow the link:
Has your child suffered a bereavement?
Do you need help supporting your child through a bereavement?
Find advice here:
Childhood Bereavement Network - The hub for those supporting bereaved children and young people:
First Hand - Advice on how to support children who witness a traumatic death:
Winston's Wish - Support for grieving children and young people after the death of someone important.
Young Minds - Information on all aspects of children and young people's mental health including bereavement: