Community-Based Resilience-Building

Whether the community encompasses civic groups, religious organizations, schools, sports leagues, or any and all groups that serve youth, it can promote healthy development by creating conditions in which families can thrive and by offering community-based resources including youth development and enrichment programs.

If you represent a school, community, or program that’s thinking about using a positive youth development or resilience-based strategy to transform the way young people are approached, consider organizations that will work closely with you to evaluate needs, suggest infrastructure changes, and frame interventions. Here are a few well-respected groups that can rise to meet your needs:

What Parents Can Do Within Their Community or as a Community Leader

  • Notice the acts of generosity and compassion shown by youth and spread these good news stories. Don’t notice only the heroic acts, but also the everyday acts; recognize kindness and contribution as the norm.
  • Advocate for the positive portrayal of youth in the community. Ask for a shift away from media coverage where only the highest achievers and delinquents get airtime.
  • Advocate for public health messages that don’t just tell kids what not to do but fervently tell kids what to do, and recognize that most youth are already doing the right thing.
  • Advocate for enrichment programs in communities and schools, especially in those areas most at risk that currently only have prevention programs. This doesn’t mean you should suggest that risk-based programs be cut.
  • Give youth opportunities to contribute to their communities. When they’re out serving others, their value will be noticed and they’ll receive those vital reinforcing displays of gratitude.
  • Work with the parents in your community so that young people have appropriate role models, rules, and boundaries that ensure safety. If these are seen as normal in your community, adolescents will have less reason to rebel.

Including Youth Wisdom

Young people who contribute to the well-being of their community and are noticed for their efforts will be more likely to stay engaged. We must never forget that youth are the experts on themselves. We increase the quality of the program and the benefits to the participants when we ask youth for advice in designing a program. Young people who help programs design services may become leaders in those same or future programs.

If you want to guide the youth of a community toward positive behaviors, consider creating peer educators and positive role models. Messages hold a certain resonance when transmitted from someone to whom peers can relate. At the same time, peer educators have more credibility when they’re linked with respected adult experts. Understand also who the peer opinion leaders are (not necessarily the best students or class officers) and influence them to model appropriate behaviors.


Source: Building Resilience in Children and Teens, 2nd Edition , Copyright © 2011 American Academy of Pediatrics). The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.


Celebrate Earth Day, April 22!

Earth Day is an annual event celebrated on April 22. Worldwide, various events are held to demonstrate support for environmental protection. First celebrated in 1970, Earth Day now includes events in more than 193 countries, which are now coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network.

Here are a few ways you and your family can celebrate in Connecticut:

For more, try a Google search on “Earth Day 2019 events in CT.”

A Guide to Reading With Your Child

Start talking, singing, and reading with your child from the beginning. He will learn that reading is a fun activity you share together.

  • Point to words as you read them, showing your child that the print carries the story.
  • Ask your child to name things she sees in the pictures. Talk about how the pictures relate to the story.
  • Reading doesn’t have to be a huge project. Even a 3 minute story every night before bedtime will help your child learn.

Discuss Healthy Active Living using The Very Hungry Caterpillar:

  • Teach your child that apples, pears, plums, strawberries, and oranges are all fruits. Ask him if he can name other fruits.
  • Talk to her about how fruits are good for the body.
  • Talk about how when the caterpillar overeats, he gets a stomachache— so it is important to stop eating when you feel full.
  • Talk about how some foods are “sometimes” foods—like cake and ice cream—and how it is not a good idea to eat them all the time.
  • After reading the page where the caterpillar eats the green leaf and feels better, talk to your child about how you too eat green leaves (lettuce, spinach, cabbage, etc.) and how it is good for your body.
  • Teach your child that is important to eat healthy foods, so he can grow up healthy and active like a butterfly.

Download a printable guide that contains healthy eating tips and a reader’s guide to using The Very Hungry Caterpillar to encourage conversations about healthy eating. Print it out and share it with family and friends.


The information contained on this web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.


Healthy Active Living for Families

Healthy nutrition starts as early as infancy with breastfeeding. Once your baby begins eating solid foods, introduce nutritious foods early on and often. Sometimes toddlers need to try a food 10 times before they actually accept and enjoy it. It is also important to encourage play time as soon as they start crawling and walking. As your children grow, continue to help them live a healthy active lifestyle.

To lead a healthy active life, families can strive to reach these goals:

  • 5 fruits and vegetables a day,
  • 2 hours or less of screen time (TV, computer, video games) per day,
  • 1 hour of physical activity a day, and
  • 0 limit sugar-sweetened drinks.

To help children live healthy active lives, parents can:

  • be role models themselves by making healthy eating and daily physical activity the norm for their family.
  • create a home where healthy choices are available and encouraged.
  • make it fun – find ways to engage your children such as: playing a game of tag, cooking healthy meals together, creating a rainbow shopping list to find colorful fruits and vegetables, go on a walking scavenger hunt through the neighborhood, or grow a family garden.

In addition to 5, 2, 1, 0, families can make small changes in their family routines to help everyone lead healthier active lives. Try:

  • Eating breakfast every day;
  • Eating low-fat dairy products like yogurt, milk, and cheese;
  • Regularly eating meals together as a family;
  • Limiting fast food, take out food, and eating out at restaurants;
  • Preparing foods at home as a family;
  • Eating a diet rich in calcium; and
  • Eating a high fiber diet.

Help your children form healthy habits now. Healthy active children are more likely to be healthy active adults!


Source: American Academy of Pediatrics (Copyright © 2010). The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.


Food Additives: What Parents Should Know

Food additives have been used for thousands of years, ever since people realized salt could keep meat from spoiling. Today, there are more than 10,000 additives approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to preserve, package, or modify the taste, look, texture, or nutrients in foods. But increasing evidence suggests some chemicals used as food additives should be avoided―especially for children.

Food Additives Effects on Kids

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) policy, “Food Additives and Child Health,” explains that a rising number of studies suggest some food additives may interfere with hormones, growth, and development Some may also raise a child’s risk of obesity. Children may be particularly susceptible to the effects of these additives, given that they have more exposure than adults due to their size and dietary intake.

Below is a list of the most commonly used food additives and the current health concerns. This list includes indirect additives, which are used in processing or packaging, as well as direct additives that are put directly into foods.

How to Reduce Your Family’s Exposure to Food Additives

  • Buy fresh or frozen. It’s best to buy and serve fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables when possible.
  • Eat fewer processed meats. Try to avoid processed meats, such as hot dogs, ham and meats in pre-packaged meals, especially during pregnancy.
  • Wash plastic food containers and utensils by hand, rather than in the dishwasher. Heat can cause plastics to leak BPA and phthalates into food. Avoid microwaving food or beverages―including infant formula and breastmilk―in plastic, if possible.
  • Use glass and stainless steel. Especially when cooking or serving hot foods, use alternatives to plastic, such as glass or stainless steel, when possible.
  • Learn plastic recycling codes. Look at the recycling code on the bottom of products to find the plastic type. Try to avoid plastics with recycling codes 3 (phthalates), 6 (styrene), and 7 (bisphenols) unless plastics are labeled as “biobased” or “greenware,” which means they are made from corn and do not contain bisphenols.
  • Wash your hands. Because chemicals from plastics are so common in items we touch throughout the day, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling food.
  • Speak out. Join the AAP and other organizations calling for more research into food additives’ safety, including improvements to the U.S. food additive regulatory program and retesting some previously approved additives. A recent review of nearly 4,000 food additives showed that 64% of them had had no research showing they were safe for people to eat or drink. While some change to the current law could be achieved by the FDA, some may require congressional action.

Common Questions from Parents About Food Additives

How do I find out which additives are in foods? Additives that are put directly in foods are listed on ingredient labels, but often with their chemical names. For example, salt may be listed as sodium chloride, sugar as sucrose, vitamin C as ascorbic acid, and vitamin E as alpha-tocopherol. Artificial colors are usually listed by their numbers, such as Blue #2 or Yellow #5. However, there are also indirect additives from processing or packaging materials that are not listed on the ingredient labels. These can include chemicals from plastic, glues, dyes, paper, cardboard, and different types of coatings.

Are additives a problem in any baby products? The FDA recently banned BPA from baby bottles and sippy cups, but the chemical is still used in some food and beverage containers. Many companies have voluntarily removed BPA from their products, but in many cases replaced it with chemicals such as bisphenol S (BPS) that may have similar health effects. In 2017, the Consumer Product Safety Commission banned the use of some phthalates in child-care products such as teething rings.

Do artificial food colors cause childhood hyperactivity? More research is needed to better understand how artificial food colors (AFCs) may or may not impact a child’s behavior. This is because much of the original research on these additives were animal studies that did not include behavioral affects. For some children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and other problem behaviors, the AAP says that until we know more, it may be helpful to eliminate AFCs from their diet if they seem to worsen symptoms.

The Future of Food Additives

Many new techniques are being researched that will improve how additives are produced. One approach is the use of biotechnology, which can use simple organisms to produce food additives. These additives are the same as food components found in nature.

Remember..aAlthough there are ways to limit the amount of potentially harmful food additives in your family’s diet, stronger federal food safety requirements will help keep all children healthy


Last Updated 7/23/2018. Source: American Academy of Pediatrics (Copyright © 2018). The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.


5 Great Reasons to Cook with Your Kids

When it comes to raising an adventurous eater, it is not just about coaxing kids to eat their veggies. Bringing up a child who can enjoy a cantaloupe as much as a cupcake takes patience and persistence, but it does not have to feel like a chore.

Kids may need to have frequent joyful experiences involving food to overcome the anxiety they may have around tasting the unfamiliar. Over time, cooking with your children can help build that confidence—and provide rich sensory experiences.

Here are five ways to enjoy cooking with your children while raising an adventurous eater along the way.

  1. Engage other senses. For a hesitant eater, tasting an unfamiliar food can sometimes be intimidating. You can help your child explore foods when cooking using other senses besides taste. This helps to build positive associations with food. Kneading dough, rinsing vegetables, and tearing lettuce all involve touching food and being comfortable with texture. The complex flavors we experience when eating food come from both taste sensations from the tongue AND smelling with the nose. While cooking with new ingredients, some children may feel too overwhelmed to taste. If this happens, you can try suggesting smelling a food first; this may provide a bridge to tasting in the future.
  2. Use cooking to raise smart kids. There are so many lessons that can be taught while cooking. Math concepts like counting, measurement, and fractions naturally unfold when navigating a recipe with kids. Explaining how food changes with temperature or how certain foods can help our body be healthy provide great lessons in science. While cooking with your child, practice new vocabulary as you describe how food looks, feels, and tastes. Following a recipe from start to finish helps build the skills for planning and completing projects.
  3. Make cooking part of the family culture. The family meal can start in the kitchen as you cook together. Family meal preparation is an opportunity to celebrate your cultural heritage by passing down recipes. Help your kids find new, seasonal recipes to add to your repertoire and family cookbook. Cooking together and prioritizing health over the convenience of processed food are great ways to lead by example and help your children buy into a culture of wellness. Building daily and seasonal traditions around cooking together helps strengthen your family’s commitment to a healthy lifestyle.
  4. Keep it safe. Teach kids the importance of staying safe while cooking by showing them how to hold kitchen tools safely, how to use oven mitts to protect hands from heat, and how to turn appliances on and off safely. Always supervise children when cooking to ensure they are sticking with safe and age-appropriate tasks. The best way to keep cooking safe is to know your child’s abilities and his or her stage of development. A four-year-old child, for example, may not be ready to sauté vegetables over a hot pan, but may have the fine motor skills to rinse fruits or tear salad leaves. Keeping safety in mind, it is not difficult to get kids—even toddlers—involved in the kitchen.
  5. Ask for input. Children feel more included in mealtime when they are asked to be a part of meal preparation. Collaborate with your kids when selecting recipes for main dishes or sides. Let them help you make the shopping list and find groceries in the store or farmers market. When cooking together, let children offer a critique of the foods you are preparing. Together you can decide what ingredients you should add to enhance the flavor. Talk about how people enjoy different tastes, and share your preferences with each other. Letting children be “in charge” of details like how to set the table will help them feel invested in mealtime.

Over many years, cooking as a family will help develop a happy, adventurous eater with some pretty valuable life skills—and plenty of happy memories in the kitchen. With enough practice, your child will someday be able to cook YOU a delicious meal!


Author: Nimali Fernando, MD, MPH, FAAP. Source: American Academy of Pediatrics (Copyright © 2016). The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.


March is National Nutrition Month

Choosing nutritious foods and getting enough physical activity can make a real difference in your health. For National Nutrition Month® 2019, in March, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics encourages people to make informed food choices and develop sound eating and activity habits.

Each March, the Academy focuses attention on healthful eating through National Nutrition Month®. “Through the campaign, we share good eating tips such as how to keep nutritious meals simple, the importance of making food safety a part of your everyday routine, the value of preparing meals with foods you have on hand to avoid wasting food, and how to select nutritious food options when dining away from home,” says registered dietitian nutritionist Robin Foroutan, a New York-based spokesperson for the Academy.

“Eating right doesn’t have to be complicated,” Foroutan says. “Think about what you want your plate to look like and ask if it’s incorporating all the major food groups. Select a mix of lean protein foods, vegetables, whole grains and fruits to enjoy a healthful meal.”

The Academy recommends balancing nutritious foods with physical activity most days of the week. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ physical activity guidelines, adults should participate in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity per week, including at least two days of muscle-strengthening activities. Being physically active up to 300 minutes per week has even greater health benefits.

“Look into incorporating physical activity into your daily routine,” Foroutan says. “Walk to work or take a walk during your lunch hour. Do something physical during the weekend, such as playing basketball with your kids or going dancing with your friends. The goal is to get moving; every little bit helps.”

Initiated in 1973 as National Nutrition Week, National Nutrition Month® became a month-long observance in 1980 in response to growing interest in nutrition.

As part of National Nutrition Month®, the Academy’s website includes articles, recipes, videos and educational resources to spread the message of good nutrition and the importance of an overall healthy lifestyle for people of all ages, genders and backgrounds.

Consumers can also follow National Nutrition Month® on the Academy’s social media channels including Facebook and Twitter using #NationalNutritionMonth.

Teaching Children Cultural and Racial Pride

​For generations, immigrant parents in this country have taught their children to love their roots. They have passed down their language, their values, their beliefs, and traditions to their children with the same love they were passed down to them.

WATCH: In this video, click here, AAP Pediatrician Edith Bracho-Sanchez, MD offers important advice to parents about the importance of teaching children to honor differences in others, and to celebrate the way in which we all contribute to American society. 9

LISTEN: Teaching Empathy & Compassion

Empathy starts with understanding other people’s emotions and feelings. Kids have to get in touch with their own emotions and feelings first. You can’t understand emotions unless you communicate face-to-face. Talk through what could help others feel better so your child understands how others feel. Then, expand your child’s experiences through travel and reading, and encourage community involvement.

Want to learn more? CLICK HERE to listen to podcast with host Melanie Cole, MS.