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Session 3

Painful Generational Secrets, Healing Circle for the Educators, & Resilience

Painful Generational Secrets: ACEs

Often, ACEs are kept secret…

  • Abuse (physical, emotional or sexual)
  • Neglect (physical or emotional)
  • Household dysfunction (incarceration, substance abuse, mental illness, or domestic violence among parents or household crime).
  • Racism

Secrets can be decades old hidden traumas from childhood or present day occurrences. No matter whether old secrets or new, there is great danger in getting into the habit of concealing things from others.

Secrets exert a gravitational pull. It’s the cyclical revisiting of our [trauma] that explains the harmful effects that secrets have on our well-being and relationship satisfaction. Along with a diminished sense of well-being and physical health consequences, keeping secrets can also shift a person’s focus from the task at hand to their secrets, which clearly can have a detrimental effect on task performance.”

– Malia Mason, Columbia University

Understanding the Development of Resilience

  • Protective experiences and adaptive skills counterbalance significant adversity on the other side
  • Resilience is evident when a child’s health and development are tipped in the positive direction even when a heavy load of factors is stacked on the negative side

Resilience Requires Support & Opportunities

  • No matter the source of hardship, most common factor for children who do well is having the support of at least ONE stable and committed relationship with a parent, caregiver or other adult
  • Resilience requires supportive relationships and opportunities for skill-building that buffer children from developmental disruption

Relationships Help Develop Key Capacities

  • Ability to plan
  • Monitor and regulate behavior
  • Adapt to changing circumstances
  • Better enable to respond to adversity when facing it

Programs with positive responsive relationships toward children facing serious hardship may see a DRAMATIC turnaround in those who seem to be doing the worse

Learning to Cope with Manageable Threats

  • Critical for the development of resilience
  • Not all stress is harmful
  • With supportive adults, positive stress can be beneficial
  • Overtime, bodies and brains begin to perceive stressors as manageable
  • When adversity feels overwhelming and supportive relationships are NOT available, stress can turn toxic and tip the scale toward negative outcomes

Resilience Developed at Any Age

  • Never completely lose the ability to improve coping skills and adapt to new challenges
  • Most adaptable early in life giving a foundation for a wide range of resilient behavior
  • Resilience is shaped throughout life by the accumulation of experiences both good and bad with the continuing development of adaptive coping skills connected to the experiences
  • What happens early may matter most but it is NEVER too late to build resilience

Activities for Health Benefits also improve Resilience

  • Regular physical exercise
  • Stress reduction practices
  • Faith and cultural traditions for hope and stability
  • Programs that actively build executive function & self-regulation skills
  • Programs can help improve capacities for coping, adapting and preventing adversity

Hope, Belief, Work

  • Adults who strengthen protective and coping skills can better model positive behaviors for children
  • Improve resilience of the next generation
  • Disrupt the intergenerational transfer of adversity

I wanted to tell them what he did. But generational whispers slowly reminded me, “what goes on in. this house, Stays in this house.”

~Generational Secrets

-A.C. Schmidt

View Session 3 Presentation

  • Center on the Developing Child, Harvard University, 2020
  • Relationship of Childhood Abuse and Household Dysfunction to Many of the Leading Causes of Death in Adults: The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study. Vincent J Felitti MD, FACPRobert F Anda MD, MS, 1998
  • Pediatrics and Child Health;The Social Determinants of Child Health, 2018
  • Neighborhood Wellness Foundation, grassroots observations and interactions, 2017-2021