Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and resilience – parent fact sheet

Emerging Minds and ANU, Australia, February 2020

Resource Summary

This infographic provides information on the prevalence and types of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), as well as ways in which parents can support their children.

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)


Australian research suggests that two in three children will have experienced a potentially traumatic event by the time they are 16 years old.

Around 20% of children are likely to experience three or more adversities (with 27% experiencing no adversities; 30% experiencing one adversity; and 23% experience two adversities).

This level of exposure to adversity has the potential to disrupt the child’s development, their social and emotional wellbeing, and their physical and mental health.

Trauma and adversity

Children can experience trauma and adversity from a range of difficult life experiences, such as abuse, parental separation, neglect and mental illness. If these experiences are overwhelming for the child, they can lead to a traumatic response.

In many cases, children will receive support and care from their family and community, and will be able work through these experiences.

However, these experiences often impact the whole family, and caring relationships within the family can also be affected.

Types of trauma

Approximately 20% of Australian children will experience an incident of physical or sexual abuse, or child maltreatment at some stage before the age of 16 years.

Around 5-6% of children are affected by natural disasters, such as bushfires, floods and storms.

Children who arrive in Australia from areas of conflict, war or similarly traumatic environments, may also be affected by the impact of trauma.

Support your child's resilience by being...

Someone they can lean on

Be there for them, support them through difficulties and be a safe place for them to express their feelings.

Share more frequent meals together as a family to build strong, healthy relationships.

Support them to practice healthy habits and routines. Predictable patterns help children feel safe and secure.

Someone who is interested in them

Make time for play everyday. Even 5 minutes can make a huge difference for a child.

Ask about their favourite school subjects or activities. Take the time to listen to their answers or get them to teach you something they’ve learned.

Learn positive coping strategies like naming feelings or slow breathing, and practise them together.

Someone who believes in them

Praise your child for things you notice about them. This helps build their self-esteem.

Nurture their independence. Encourage them to explore, have adventures and try new things.

Share your own childhood dreams and ask your child about theirs. Let them know you think they can achieve their ambitions.

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