In an earlier post we talked about adverse childhood experiences (ACES) and how they effect a child’s well being. We can’t see the scars that this trauma inflicts. And, sometimes it isn’t noticeable until years later. However, as parents we can help our children through the pain and equip them with tools to help them cope as they grow up.
Using Exercise to Help Children with Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES)
After a child experiences some type of toxic stress, they develop coping habits. You may notice they are learning things at a slower than normal pace. They might have trouble concentrating on school work. Or they spend more time alone. The signs are numerous. As a parent, it’s important to be aware that any degree of ACES can cause a reaction by your child in some degree or form.
However, you can help your child through it. Supporting them with lots of love and care. Let them know you are there for them no matter what. And, you can give them opportunities to get exercise which can help in several ways.
The Benefits of Exercise
First exercise is healthy for a child’s body. It helps develop muscle strength and control. It builds eye and hand coordination. And, helps prevent obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. All are higher risks for people with ACES.
Secondly, it gets the child out into the fresh air while getting their mind on enjoyable things. It lifts up their mood by enjoying games or activity. Instead of sitting in their room or in front of the TV, they are physically and mentally active. Exercise can help work off frustration or help build self confidence.
Lastly, it give children a time to just be kids and enjoy the company of others. They have a opportunity to connect with other people. It’s especially helpful when you dedicate time regularly to do something outdoors with your children. Give the your undivided attention. Go on a walk in the woods. Play ball together. Teach them how to garden.
Provide enough activity that allows them plenty of physical exercise, but don’t overwhelm with too much. An over filled schedule of soccer practice, karate lessons, etc. can put too much stress on a child and on you. Keep a balance of activity and downtime to relax.
Exercise for Little Ones
Toddlers and preschool children have their own level of physically activity. They naturally crawl or run about every waking minute. While they might not need encouraged to exercise like older children do, they can still benefit from some time with mom or dad. One reason for this is because little ones of this age show different signs of ACES. You might notice your little one isn’t walking like other children their age. Or maybe they aren’t feeding themselves, yet. Or, maybe they aren’t talking when other children start to speak.
They react to toxic stress differently. And, you can help them by spending time working with them. Turn exercise into play. Encourage them and let them enjoy having your full attention as they interact with you. Gentle, patient physical play that will help their bodies to develop and catch up in those important milestones.