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ID Conference: Positive Childhood Experiences Promote Good Health

A child's positive relationship with a parent or caring adult can be good for their health later in life. (susanjanegolding/Flickr)
A child's positive relationship with a parent or caring adult can be good for their health later in life. (susanjanegolding/Flickr)
August 31, 2020

BOISE, Idaho -- This week, practitioners, educators and parents are coming together for the 21st annual Strengthening Families Training Institute conference.

The conference, convened by the Idaho Children's Trust Fund, has changed because of COVID-19, going online this year.

Dr. Robert Sege, pediatrician at Tufts Medical Center's Floating Hospital for Children, will be this year's keynote speaker, addressing his new framework for preventing child maltreatment, which is Healthy Outcomes from Positive Experiences, or HOPE.

He said for many years, people have known adverse experiences such as childhood abuse can be detrimental to a person's well-being.

"More recently, there's equally strong evidence that certain kinds of positive experiences promote child health," Sege said.

Sege added the building blocks of the HOPE approach are positive relationships, stable environments, engagement with family and communities and opportunities for social-emotional development.

The conference starts on Wednesday and lasts through Friday.

Adverse childhood experiences can have all kinds of health effects on people when they grow up. But Sege said positive experiences could actually counteract the negative experiences.

"It could be - and we think it is - that these positive childhood experiences balanced out what happened and allowed them to heal," Sege explained.

Sege said COVID-19 has created massive disruptions for families, from unemployment to how kids can interact with each other. However, Sege said some families have used it as an opportunity to become closer.

"What we've seen, and we've been talking to people around the country, is that many families are super resilient and have figured out ways to make this work for their children," Sege said.

Sege said for instance, some parents who are unemployed and receiving unemployment insurance have been able to spend more time with their kids.

He said teenagers also are stepping up in these trying times to help out in their communities.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - ID