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Taking a Two-Generation Approach to Children’s Health

Even before birth, children rely on their parents to learn about and cultivate the habits and skills that will support their future health and well-being. Because of this, when a parent or caregiver struggles, children’s health may suffer. In this interview with NICHQ CEO Scott D. Berns, MD, MPH, FAAP, we discuss why a two-generation approach is essential for children’s health, and how we can use it to drive systems-level change.

Youths with strong relationships more likely to intervene in bullying

A study in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence found that sixth- and ninth-grade students with stronger self-reported positive family relationships had a higher likelihood of considering aggressive behaviors and retaliation unacceptable and were more likely to intervene, while those who reported feeling discriminated against or excluded by peers and teachers had reduced odds of defending bullying victims. Sixth-graders were more likely to intervene than ninth-graders, the study found.

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Healthier Holidays in 1 – 2 – 3!

1. Stay active.

Being active is your secret weapon this holiday season. It can help make up for eating more than usual and has many other health benefits.

Walking is a great way to be active. Try these tips to incorporate more walking into your activities:

  • Skip the search for a close-up parking spot. Park farther away and walk to your destination.
  • Make a few extra laps around the mall. Walk the length of the mall before going into any stores. The mall is also a good place to walk to avoid bad weather.
  • Start your work day by taking the stairs. Remember to stretch your legs and take short physical activity breaks throughout the day.

2. Eat healthy.

Healthy eating is all about balance. You can enjoy your favorite foods even if they are high in calories, saturated fat, or added sugars. The key is eating them only once in a while or in small portions and balancing them out with healthier foods.

  • If you are traveling this season, take healthy snacks along, like fruit and low-fat protein. That way, you can avoid the temptation of convenience foods high in fat, sugar, and salt.
  • If your favorite home recipes call for fried fish or chicken with breading, try healthier baked or grilled variations. Maybe try a recipe that uses dried beans in place of higher-fat meats.

Resolve to make new habits. This year, while at parties and other gatherings, fill your plate with fruits and veggies first, and pick small portions of just your favorites of the other items.

3. Plan activities that don’t involve eating.

In addition to enjoying a meal with friends and family around the table, take the party outside!

  • Try a seasonal activity with your family. Jump start your bucket list for the year.
  • Make a “walk and talk” date with a friend or family member. Skip the Frappuccino and explore a part of your town or city that may be new to you.
  • If the weather prevents you from heading outdoors, try mall-walking, or planning a family game night. Visit that museum, botanical garden, or exhibit you’ve been wanting to see.

Consider what new healthy traditions you can start this year. The possibilities are endless!

Get Outdoors

Enjoy the crisp, cool air by getting outdoors! Start a new family tradition by going on a family walk before or after dinner.

Get the Family Outside

Fall is a great time to take the kids on a leaf exploration walk. Encourage them to point out all the colors and shapes they see!

Early Family Experience Affects Later Romantic Relationships

Learning how to form and sustain happy and healthy romantic relationships is a key skill for young adults. Such relationships are based on feelings of love, effective problem-solving, and the absence of physical and verbal violence. The ability to develop a healthy relationship can be influenced by the experiences people have had within their own families. However, the ways in which the family environment influences interpersonal skills and romantic relationships aren’t well understood.

A team of researchers led by Penn State graduate student Mengya Xia set out to explore how interpersonal skills and family factors affect romantic relationships. They examined data from a long-term study on preventing substance use among more than 10,000 youths in rural and semi-rural communities in Pennsylvania and Iowa. A randomly selected set of nearly 2,000 participated in a later follow-up project when they were young adults. For this analysis, the team included the 974 participants between 18 and 21 years old who were in a steady romantic relationship. The study was supported by NIH’s National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). The results were published in the July 2018 issue of Journal of Youth and Adolescence.

Read more from NIH Research Matters

Get Kids Moving

Create a backyard obstacle course complete with pool noodle balance beam, hula hoop hopscotch, and a jump rope station.

Extreme Weather Preparedness

Every minute counts during a disaster – plan now so you’re prepared. Know the risks related to weather events that could affect you and your family where you live, work, and go to school. Use these resources from USAGov to set a family disaster plan, and sign up for weather or emergency alerts.

Go for a Family Walk

Enjoy the summer evenings – take a walk as a family after dinner. It’s a great way to be active together!

Essentials for Parenting

Essentials for Parenting - Father coloring with daughter

Parenting is hard work! CDC’s Essentials for Parenting is a free, online resource which helps parents of toddlers and preschoolers handle common behavior challenges.

Essentials for Parenting explains key strategies which help in building positive, healthy relationships between parents and children such as:

  • positive communication,
  • clear directions, and
  • consistent structure.

This resource is available in both English and Spanish and offers:

We know that all children and parents are unique. This resource is designed to help parents make the best decisions that work for their child and family.

Users can increase their parenting confidence by visiting Essentials for Parenting today!