The type of stress that results when a child experiences ACEs (including poverty) may become toxic when there is “strong, frequent, or prolonged activation of the body’s stress response systems in the absence of the buffering protection of a supportive, adult relationship.”
Toxic stress impairs attention, emotion and mood regulation, sleep, and learning readiness. It can also interfere with the capacity for creative play, which is one of the ways children learn how to cope with the problems of everyday life. Even more troubling, prolonged exposure to childhood toxic stress has lifelong impacts on mental and physical health. The biological response to this toxic stress can be incredibly destructive and last a lifetime.