Race and racism can be a sensitive topic to dive into, no matter who you are talking to. But when we start the conversation with our children, it can be particularly daunting. We soon learn there is no one way to go about it and how the topic is approached, may depend upon your own family’s situation and cultural makeup. To help you the caregiver out, we are going to share some practical tips to help your child understand the concept and ways to grow and change.
If this a new topic for you, educate yourself on race and racism. You cannot teach children about this or any other topic unless you know what you are talking about.
Read articles. Listen to topical podcasts. Read books. Talk to others knowledgeable on the topic. Learn all you can, before you attempt to teach.
Approach the Subject Early
Don’t wait for an issue to arrive. Talk about the possible issues at hand, before they arise.
It is said that as soon as 6 months of age kids are noticing skin color. And by 2 to 4 years of age, they are already internalizing racial bias.
When bringing the topic up, consider the current developmental level of the child. Start the conversation by asking simple questions to understand what they are currently thinking regarding other races. Find out what they want to know, and teach them.
And remember to follow their lead. If the child asks follow-up questions, they are showing you they are ready for more. Be ready to give more.
And always remember, conversations should be ongoing and should not be a one-time occurrence.
Be Prepared with What to Say When the Time Comes
Your first step to take in talking about racism is to talk about the race itself. Teach your children that there is nothing wrong with observing physical characteristics and differences. But you want to teach them not to make negative judgments based upon those differences.
Consider talking to your child about the positive aspects of being different and the similarities in all groups. Tell them being different is not weird or bad.
Teach them about stereotypes and remind them that not all people in one group are the same.
And do discuss that some people are treated unfairly because of the color of their skin.
Use Tools to Help Engage Kids in the Conversation
Books are an incredibly helpful tool in engaging and explaining a difficult concept to kids. There are many options available on Amazon.
Talk About How Your Child Can Make a Change
Children have a natural inclination to learn and want to help others. Some topics to discuss can include being kind to all people of all backgrounds. And to learn, listen to, and start understanding the experiences or feelings of others who are different.
Set A Positive Example
Be the example your child needs! Have a diverse network of friends. Attend diverse community events, and consume diverse media such as books, and other media in your home.
Let your children see you talk to others about race by having open discussions with other adults around them. And pay attention to what is trending online and what teens are exposed to.
Remember, exposing the younger generation to all backgrounds, races, ethnicities are essential to creating a world that is accepting and respectful of everyone.
The world is rich in culture and heritage. Children need to learn early it is good to accept and embrace this. It’s not an overnight change. It’s a daily process of consciously working toward creating a world that accepts and respects all who are in it.
"In union there is strength." - Aesop