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Ways Parents Can Help Protect and Improve Black Children’s Mental Health

December 3, 2021

December 3, 2021

The pandemic brought the issue of mental health to the fore of societal discourse. Mental health was a major source of concern during the lockdown months. But even in the middle of all that, a key segment of the population was ignored, Blacks and other minorities.

The bulk of mental health coping strategies and techniques that were shared were mostly generic in nature. There was little or no concern for Black families, their living situations, or their mental well-being. It was assumed that they were going to find ways to cope just like other individuals.

Unfortunately, Black families, including children, have been dealing with serious mental health challenges, most of which aren’t talked about enough. In many Black families, the mental well-being of all members rest on the parents’ shoulders. If you’re reading this, you’re probably seeking ways to help your kids be psychologically healthy. The tips here can help you.

Be Careful About Excessive Tough Love

Black parents are known for tough love. It’s how Black communities have ensured discipline for centuries. It’s how kids’ excesses are kept in check. For example, Black kids know that if you “messed up,” you got your “butt whooped.”

And because that’s how many parents were raised, tough love continues to be a mainstay in many Black homes. Unfortunately, these methods lead to other things like kids thinking they cannot be vulnerable or ask for help, often to their detriment.

But here’s an important question: what if tough love is too tough? What if kids are under undue mental pressure because of this version of tough love? Surveys already show that the suicide rate among Black kids is twice that of other races.

What if parents can “tone down” the tough love and allow the kids to be vulnerable, seek and receive help, while still being independent and strong? This is an idea that parents need to start thinking of.

Parents Need to Talk About Pressing Issues

Sometimes, anxiety in kids can stem from not feeling empowered, not knowing enough, and being scared all the time. In the movie, “The Hate U Give”, a girl and a guy were pulled over by the cops.

Her dad had taught her everything she needed to do when she eventually gets pulled over –- speak respectfully, put your hands where the cops can see them, avoid any displays of aggression, not make any sudden moves, obey instructions, and so on. The driver, on the other hand, didn’t have this information. So he did the opposite of the things she did, which eventually cost him his life.

Every Black parent must have “the talk” with their kid. And no, we don’t mean that other talk, we mean the one that will keep them safe. This will empower them to feel more in control of their lives.

Finally, remember to cheer up and maintain a positive mien in the home. Watch your favorite TV shows, laugh a lot –anti jokes and comedy shows can help, stay happy, cultivate a warm loving environment, and make the home a place of refuge from the vicissitudes of the outside world.

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