Toxic Stress and Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE's)


(Arti Freeman) #1

What is toxic stress and how does it impact child development?

Stress is a normal part of healthy development. A certain amount of stress is good and helps children perform well and grow, such as the stress of meeting someone new or the first day of school. However when children face constant stress as a result of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) such as neglect, effects of poverty, abuse, dysfunction in the home, and no support from a caring adult, that stress becomes toxic and will impact social, emotional and cognitive functioning and development of children and negatively impact their mental and physical health during their lifetime.

The Centre on the Developing Child at Harvard University explains the three types of stress levels:


Toxic Stress can be avoided by ensuring nurturing, stable and caring environments for children. This infographic from the Centre on the Developing Child at Harvard University, recaps the relationship of ACEs to Toxic Stress and highlights mechanisms to reduce the effects of toxic stress.

We previously interviewed Dr. Jean Clinton on the impact of Toxic Stress on children.

Do you have questions on ACE’s and Toxic Stress? Ask Dr. Jean HERE

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