For some families, discussing race is a regular part of their daily routine. For others, race can be a difficult subject to talk about because it may be an unfamiliar and complex discussion. Children usually adapt their beliefs, morals, and behaviors from their parents and as a result, the topic of racism is even more important. When a parent informs their children about a topic, like race, it is much more likely that they will have a positive or thoughtful outlook. If you avoid talking about race, it can cause children to create their own, possibly inaccurate, conclusions.
It is also vital that parents are educated on the topic of race before they educate their children, so that they are delivering the correct information and their children can adapt the information into their daily lives. If we teach our children that all humans are equal, it will provide a foundation for future generations to understand that differences in color or sexual orientation should not determine a person’s character or social status.
Our recommendation is to avoid teaching a “colorblind” perspective of the world. Children must recognize the differences in skin color as something to be celebrated, rather than avoided. Here are some tips on how you can inform your child about racism effectively.
Set the example: If you are encouraging your children to build connections with a diverse group of individuals, put the effort in making sincere connections with a variety of people as well. In addition, it is necessary to recognize your mistakes so that you can prevent your child from practicing or ending up with the same shortfalls.
Make it relatable: When a child is punished for bad behavior with a toy being taken away for a period of time, the child may feel that it is unfair. However, when they receive a new toy, they are excited. If a child understands the concept of fairness, which can be used to explain race to your child. By relating race to the concept of fairness, you are demonstrating to your child that it is crucial that all people are treated fairly and equally.
Allow the conversation to be open: It is natural for a child to be curious or ask questions, so as a parent, allow curiosity and answer all questions to the best of your ability. Honest communication is important when discussing racism so that any misinformation can be corrected.
Be an advocate: It is essential to instill the idea of being an advocate for all people when it comes to the discussion of race. With the knowledge that your child will gain, it is vital that they know they can speak up and use their voice when it is necessary. As an advocate, you and your child can educate others when they are disrespectful or use inappropriate language while discussing race. By adapting this mindset, it allows all humans to be granted the same opportunities and be treated fairly.
Resources: There are many children's books that can act as useful resources to help lead the conversation of race and racism. The language is age appropriate for your child so that he or she can understand the importance of the discussion.
Some people may feel uncomfortable speaking about race or racism, but it is prevalent in all communities. Even further, it is necessary to address the topic for children so that they can develop the understanding and habits of treating all humans equally from a young age. Some parents feel that they have an obligation to protect their children from experiencing racial discrimination. However, avoiding racism can increase the problem further. If you can follow the tips provided above when informing your children about the racism that occurs in our society today, it will allow your child to understand how to treat all humans the way you and we want them to be treated - fair and with love.