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Helping children push through in tough times
In the wake of heightened racial tension and focus on the differences among us, we are left wondering how we can help our children adjust well and make sense of how race and other differences operate in our world. The Collaborative on Racial Equity and Inclusion for Black Youth (REI-BY) was established at Texas Children’s Hospital in June 2020 to support youth and their families in light of these circumstances. In collaboration with the hospital’s Child Life department, we created a virtual book reading and Q&A session with the author of “I’m Gonna Push Through,” Jasmyn Wright. Jasmyn is a teacher and was inspired to write a mantra featured in the book after her students were having a difficult year learning new concepts. Jasmyn put a video of her students stating the mantra on social media and it went viral! The virtual event we developed was shown to patients at Texas Children’s. Jasmyn’s book brilliantly acknowledges diversity while encouraging unity and resilience among children.
Reading Jasmyn’s book is a wonderful way to explore how kids and adults are resilient in tough times. Her book recognizes that challenging times don’t have to define us but can be opportunities for growth and understanding.
Some parents may want to continue conversations about challenging circumstances with their child(ren) after reading the book. Here are a few conversation starters to further your family’s connection and your commitment to diversity, unity and resiliency as you read or listen to Jasmyn’s book.
- Many people in history who have pushed through are named in the book. Find three people you don’t know and research them. How would you describe what they pushed through?
- Talk about a time you or your child felt frustrated and pushed through. What helped you during that time? Who helped you during that time?
- Pushing through doesn’t mean not having feelings about the experience or situation. It’s OK to feel those feelings, even big, uncomfortable feelings AND to know you are strong enough to push through. When you feel big feelings like maybe feeling sad or mad, what can someone in your family say to you or do with you that helps you feel better? What can you do on your own to push through?
For parents continuing these conversations, consider listening and exploring with your child instead of advice-giving or education. These conversations can be a time for follow-up questions to understand more of your child’s ideas (“When has something similar like this happened at school?” “What do you think you would do in that situation?”). Also, these conversations are a time to provide encouragement for their responses (“I really love getting to hear your thoughts.” “You’re a great thinker with some pretty cool ideas.”).
While there is currently a negative spotlight on differences in social identities, experiences and perspectives, these times also present a chance for our children to learn more about others who are different and find characteristics that can unify. We can also use this space to help them develop strength during tough times.