1 John 4:11 “Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another”

Researchers have looked at things that can go wrong in a child’s life such as abuse and parental separation. We assume these things would ruin all children’s lives. But the researchers were surprised to discover that if children had what they called, positive childhood experiences they had a 72% less chance of having mental illness later in life even if they experienced things such as abuse.

These are called protective factors, if something bad does happen to a child, they can protect them from serious mental health problems later in life.

1. Felt able to talk to their family about feelings;

2. Felt their family stood by them during difficult times;

3. Enjoyed participating in community traditions;

4. Felt a sense of belonging in high school (not including those who did not attend school or were homeschooled);

5. Felt supported by friends;

6. Had at least 2 non- parent adults who took genuine interest in them; and

7. Felt safe and protected by an adult in their home.

You don’t need to wait until something goes wrong in a child’s life, you should start building this as soon as possible.

Note: Take No.3 above for example: Enjoyed participating in community traditions

This is why being part of a supportive Church or youth group can be really important. It could also involve getting someone involved in kapa haka or a dance group.

When you take an interest in your children you help form a connection.

Bethell, C., Jones, J., Gombojav, N., Linkenbach, J., & Sege, R. (2019). Positive childhood experiences and adult mental and relational health in a statewide sample: Associations across adverse childhood experiences levels. JAMA pediatrics, 173(11), e193007-e193007.

A good book to learn about helping children when things go very wrong is, The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog: And Other Stories from a Child Psychiatrist’s Notebook by Bruce D. Perry and Maia Szalavitz