With the intensity of the swine flu shot season winding down school nurses will be turning their attention to the new state regulations mandating that all public schools begin calculating Body Mass Index for students in the 1st, 4th, 7th and 10th grades over the next 18 months.

YHC is taking a leadership role with school nurses, mental health professionals, administrators and parents in an effort to help make the process smooth and beneficial for all involved, especially the children and adolescents.  We know it is a complex problem which demands understanding, accurate information and guidance.   The prevalence of obesity in children appears to have plateaued but the data still shows that nearly one third of children and teenagers are overweight or obese.  This is not just a medical issue but rather involves the whole family, society and education.

We encourage families to use this information as a way to begin conversation and to focus on healthy living, good family nutrition and exercise/lifestyle habits that provides the basis of a strong foundation for a lifetime of good health.  By taking a long term, positive lifestyle, collaborative approach we believe progress can be made in helping our children, teens and their parents create a plan to address obesity and hopefully reduce the number being diagnosed with diabetes and high cholesterol.  If you would like assistance with this please email or call us.

Stress impacting teens too

The economic difficulties many Americans are dealing with today are also being felt by teens.  In a survey recently released by the American Psychological Association youth reported that stress related to family finances has grown in the last year.  They also reported feeling stress about school and other issues and stated that their parents are underestimating the toll these pressures are having on them.  Nearly half (45 %) surveyed said they that worried more this year than last year but that their parents were not aware of the additional stress.  An important fact reported is that 26% of tweens (ages 8 – 12) also said they worried more this year but also stated they do not feel their parents are aware of this.  This does not mean parents are “bad” parents but rather may be an indication of a disconnect, or kids keeping things to themselves not wanting to worry their parents or parents trying to insulate their children.

What we know is that chronic stress can lead to physical symptoms including sleeping difficulties, headaches, eating too much or too little, difficulty concentrating, irritability and fatigue.  The good news is that a majority of youth said they would be comfortable talking to their parents about the things that worry them.  This provides the impetus we need as adults to engage in dialog and open communication.  We will be hosting Al Moscaritolo, LICSW on Monday, April 26, 3:30 – 5:30 for an educational presentation on Stress in Children and Adolescence:  How to recognize it and how to help them.

More Compassion, Less Competition

The American Psychological Association sponsored a conference this past fall entitled, “Educating World Citizens for the 21st Century.  Childhood brains have tremendous plasticity and presents the opportunity to develop practices in children that help them control their emotions.  One of the considerations is how to assist in education as it shapes children’s brains beyond the narrow task of memorizing and passing tests to include happiness, well being, kindness, cooperation and patience.

We know that helping teachers focus on the positives in each child and to make a personal connection with them is a critical element in achieving this.  Developing the qualities in our children that will help them be better “global citizens” is critical for their success in the adult workplace.  Including “Emotional Intelligence” as a life skill will give our students the ability to develop solid compassion, regulate their emotions, learn good decision making.  We believe that building resilience through promoting social and emotional learning in teachers and children we can make a difference.  Dr. Nadja Reilly of the Swensrud Depression Prevention Initiative at Children’s Hospital will be presenting on Resilience in Children and Adolescence on Wednesday, March 24th.  Understanding the meaning of resilience and how to nurture will the focus of her talk.