Lessons Learned: Talking with Kids about Racism and Inequality
Silence about race reinforces racism, say experts. Parents who are people of color have shared that they talk with their children as early as three years old about race to help them cope with what they may encounter outside the home. Here is what we have learned from parents on how to approach this important issue:
- Be proactive. Simply and honestly, talk to children about the issues surrounding the protests. Using age-appropriate language, outline events and why people have strong feelings about those events. Avoiding addressing protests is scary and confusing for children; discussing them models civic engagement and provides context.
- Ask about their feelings. What are emotions your child has about the protests? Talking over scared, sad or angry feelings can help children process them. Discussing why other people at the protests might feel one way or another can help children develop compassion.
- Emphasize their safety. Be conscious of your child’s media exposure. If your child has seen or heard scary things, it’s important they know that you are there to keep them safe, though bad things may be happening.
- Share your family values. Even young children can understand the concept of fairness and the role they can play in promoting it. Learn more about racial inequity here: https://www.first5la.org/parenting/articles/first-5-las-resources-for-talking-to-kids-about-race-and-racial-inequity/
- Read books about race and discrimination — and discuss. Use books as a starting point for discussing race, racism, inequity, and tolerance. For a list of resources, visit: https://www.first5la.org/parenting/articles/first-5-las-resources-for-books-for-children-on-race-and-discrimination/