Trauma-Informed Exercises: Week 1 – ACEs at Work

WEEK ONE: ACEs AT WORK                  

with Dr. Will Henson

Adverse Childhood Experiences, or ACEs, have an enormous impact on school-age children.  Almost half (45%) of students in school today have enough adverse experiences to impact their thinking, emotions and behavior.    (Want more information on ACEs and the associated research? Check out 321insight’s Trauma Informed video training series by emailing 

How we explain a student’s behavior can have a huge impact on how we address it.  This week I’d like to start thinking and talking about student behavior differently.  Start by taking a look at the Trauma-Informed Thinking diagram below. 


Away from this:

  • Focusing on changing only the child  
  • Seeing behavior as manipulative, controlling, attention seeking, and willful. 
  • Relying on discipline, rewards and consequences to address behavior.  
Towards this:

  • Focusing on things we can change to support students 
  • Recognizing how trauma impacts behavior (fight or flight reactions, vigilance, social perceptions etc..) 
  • Focusing calm interactions and getting a student to be regulated first.  

 Take a look at the trauma-informed thinking graphic above.   Do you agree with it?  Are there parts of this that don’t make sense to you?  Discuss with your team or think out loud to yourself if this is something you can get on board with.    

In the coming week, watch how educators around you explain and describe behavior.   What words do they use?  What are their ideas about why behavior issues occur?  Write down what you notice, and share it with your team or with us at

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