Scroll Top

Positive Childhood Experiences (PCEs)

We are Like Trees

Watch this video on how we, like trees, are shaped by our positive and adverse experiences.

PCEs drive healthy development and mitigate the long-term effects of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). Research shows that these experiences:

  • Promote children’s long-term health and wellbeing
  • Enable children to form strong relationships and meaningful connections
  • Cultivate positive self-image and self-worth
  • Provide a sense of belonging
  • Build skills to cope with stress in healthy ways

Although we’ve learned a significant amount about the benefit of positive experiences, most practitioners and researchers still tend to focus on the negative. Though screening for trauma and signs of danger in the home are both vital, focusing exclusively on these areas prevents a holistic view of patients and clients.

stick figures playing

PCE Impact

A 2019 JAMA Pediatrics publication highlights the power of positive childhood experiences. Using participant data on health-related risk behaviors and chronic health conditions, the survey team looked for correlations between how participants answered questions and their reported mental health status as adults. The team found that:

PCEs PROTECT future adult mental health!

The more positive childhood experiences you have, the lower your likelihood for depression and poor mental health in adulthood.

We know every child has a wide variety of experiences.  Having more positive experiences protects against the development of depression or poor mental health as an adult.

  • Individuals reporting six to seven PCEs had a 72% lower chance of reporting depression or poor mental health as an adult when compared with those reporting zero to two PCEs.
  • Individuals reporting three to five PCEs had a 52% lower chance of reporting depression or poor mental health as an adult when compared with those reporting zero to two PCEs.

Even for children with several adverse childhood experiences, having positive experiences can reduce negative outcomes.  As the graph below shows, even with four or more adverse childhood experiences, positive childhood experiences serve as a protective factor and reduce adult depression.

Positive Experiences Mitigate
the Impact of Negative Experiences

Participants reporting 4+ ACEs

% reporting depression or mental health concern

Number of PCEs

Child serving organizations have the opportunity to provide positive childhood experiences that can help negate or blunt the impact of adversity. Learn more about how you can support children’s positive experiences.