Research Topic

How the Timing, Nature, and Duration of Relationally Positive Experiences Influence Outcomes in Children With Adverse Childhood Experiences

About this Research Topic

Relational health may be the single greatest resilience-promoting factor in the face of adversity. Recent research suggests that relational health, or the quality of support received from those in immediate and distal social environments, during the first weeks and months of life promotes a range of neurodevelopmental assets, including self-regulatory, relational, and cognitive. It can also off-set the effects of adverse childhood experiences. Children who lack early-life relational health can show persistent dysfunction across neurodevelopmental domains, while conversely, relational health may be the most effective therapeutic agent in helping children who have experienced trauma and adversity heal. For example, children are unlikely to show neurodevelopmental and mental health improvements until they experience a certain ‘threshold’ of relational stability and health.

Studies investigating the power of positive relational experience are emerging across scientific disciplines and point to the idea that relational experience may be a “global” protective factor, in that there are multiple neurological, developmental, mental health and sociocultural outcomes that are influenced by relational experiences. It is time, then, to broaden the focus of research on how experience affects neurodevelopment to include positive experiences, particularly those that are relational in nature, and to increase the specificity of said research.

This Research Topic aims to gather interventional studies and other forms of original research, including systematic reviews, focusing on how the predictor variable – relationships – influences a variety of neurodevelopmental (e.g., sensory, self-regulatory, relational, cognitive) outcomes.

• Focus on the power of high-quality, culturally-relevant relationships to prevent, buffer, and heal the effects of child trauma and adversity.
• Operationalize relational interactions, such as specifying how the developmental timing, nature, and duration of relational interactions influences outcomes.
• Target outcomes that are transdiagnostic, neurodevelopmental, and/or strengths-based in nature.
• Focus on relational experiences other than or in addition to early mother-child relationships.


Keywords: Adverse Childhood Experiences, Neurodevelopment, Relationships, Social Support, Resilience


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

Relational health may be the single greatest resilience-promoting factor in the face of adversity. Recent research suggests that relational health, or the quality of support received from those in immediate and distal social environments, during the first weeks and months of life promotes a range of neurodevelopmental assets, including self-regulatory, relational, and cognitive. It can also off-set the effects of adverse childhood experiences. Children who lack early-life relational health can show persistent dysfunction across neurodevelopmental domains, while conversely, relational health may be the most effective therapeutic agent in helping children who have experienced trauma and adversity heal. For example, children are unlikely to show neurodevelopmental and mental health improvements until they experience a certain ‘threshold’ of relational stability and health.

Studies investigating the power of positive relational experience are emerging across scientific disciplines and point to the idea that relational experience may be a “global” protective factor, in that there are multiple neurological, developmental, mental health and sociocultural outcomes that are influenced by relational experiences. It is time, then, to broaden the focus of research on how experience affects neurodevelopment to include positive experiences, particularly those that are relational in nature, and to increase the specificity of said research.

This Research Topic aims to gather interventional studies and other forms of original research, including systematic reviews, focusing on how the predictor variable – relationships – influences a variety of neurodevelopmental (e.g., sensory, self-regulatory, relational, cognitive) outcomes.

• Focus on the power of high-quality, culturally-relevant relationships to prevent, buffer, and heal the effects of child trauma and adversity.
• Operationalize relational interactions, such as specifying how the developmental timing, nature, and duration of relational interactions influences outcomes.
• Target outcomes that are transdiagnostic, neurodevelopmental, and/or strengths-based in nature.
• Focus on relational experiences other than or in addition to early mother-child relationships.


Keywords: Adverse Childhood Experiences, Neurodevelopment, Relationships, Social Support, Resilience


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

10 January 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

10 January 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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