Skip to main content
Community Health: Education, Prevention & Inspiration

What are positive childhood experiences (PCEs)?

By now, you may be familiar with the concept of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). ACEs are potentially traumatic events that happen during childhood. They typically involve being a victim or witness of violence, or feeling of insecurity. Exposure to ACEs has been associated with negative outcomes in adulthood like poor mental health, chronic health problems, and substance abuse. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has provided guidelines for preventing ACEs.

Beyond Preventing ACEs, more research is looking at the benefits of positive childhood experiences (PCEs) and their potential to decrease the effect of ACEs. PCEs provide relationships and environments that are steady, safe, and nurturing. The CDC recommends the following for parents/caregivers to provide children PCEs:

  • Establish a routine. Children feel secure and thrive when the environment is structured for them.
  • Praise your child when she does something right. The more you praise a behavior, the more likely it is your child will behave the same way again.
  • Pay attention to your child when he is trying to communicate with you. Giving him your full attention will make him feel like you care about what he has to say.
  • Set aside time each day to talk and play with your child. Creating a special time lets your child know she is important and strengthens the bond between the two of you.

For people who are not parents or caregivers the CDC recommends they help provide PCEs by:

  • Letting people know that violence is unacceptable and steps will be taken to protect victims of violence.
  • Encouraging people to stand up and speak up when a person is being harassed, hurt, or needs support, if they can safely do so.

You can learn more on the CDC webpage on Creating Positive Childhood Experiences.