Teaching children to write, speak or behave is always the parents’ top priority.
However, subjects that relate to racial differences and discrimination should not be ignored by parents.
Whether the child is born into a white or black family, Western culture or Eastern one, it is crucial that he should be fully aware of discrimination.
A large number of Americans thought that they have undergone discrimination and racism, according to the 2015 APA Stress in America Survey.
People can be treated differently regarding their religion, race or ethnicity, and your child might be discriminated against sometimes because of those aforementioned reasons.
If parents are still at your wit’s end about how to teach your child about race, here are some tips that can help:
1. Understand the importance of teaching children about race
Many parents are hesitant to talk to their kids about racial differences because they are afraid that it will draw attention to children.
They think that by doing so, children will notice race or become racist.
What’s more, this subject is also very daunting when being discussed between parents and children.
As children know they are not supposed to talk about race, they may not be willing to ask questions, which leads to kids drawing conclusions on their own and create racial stereotypes.
However, whether parents talk about it or not, children can also have the ability to notice when someone is different from them.
Researchers show that even infants can distinguish skin tones. They can also point out if some people seem to be treated differently from others.
Consequently, talking to your children about race will help them appreciate diversity and dissimilarity.
Studies show that when adults discuss race and ethnicity, children are more likely to see discrimination when it occurs.
By understanding the purpose of teaching children about race, parents are advised to make a concerted effort to figure out an appropriate way to teach their kids about complex things such as societal inequities and racial differences.
If parents want to know more about the reasons why you should talk about race, refer to this article from The Washington Post.
2. Set a good example for children about race
Sometimes parents do not have the chance to be exposed to people who are different from them.
If you say something is important but your children do not see you behaving in a way that matches your announcement, then it is not essential at all to you.
For example, if parents want their children to make friends with a diverse group of people, parents themselves have to acquire the same network of friends.
It is time parents rethink by asking questions such as: “Does my network of friends look the same?” or “Does everyone who enters my home and plays with my children look the same?”
Due to the fact that you have not made a diverse group of friends yet, you could not expect your children to obey the rules.
Parents can consider this to be a great opportunity for children to be exposed to people from all walks of life, as they can learn from others and discover what they have in common.
Children rarely buy the “do as I say, not as I do” approach, parents need to keep in mind that actions speak louder than words by modeling more and more suitable behaviors.
Parents do not realize that they also bear some racial stereotypes in mind, which will heavily affect the way you teach your child about race.
By making real connections with various individuals, listening to their stories and having access to other people’s experiences, both parents and children can have different perceptions about the world.
3. Promote open conversations with children about racial differences
It is also suggested that parents should be initially comfortable when having conversations about race with their children.
Here are some tips about having a meaningful conversation about race in general: The 8 R’s of Talking About Race brought to you by Net Impact.
Let the discussion about race among family members come naturally by being open and ongoing about the conversation.
Once parents overcome the feeling of embarrassment when talking about hard subjects related to discrimination, it will get easier over time and all the knowledge will be instilled into a child’s mind.
For more information on how to talk to your children about race, refer to this video from The Atlantic.
Besides, using languages that are appropriate for children at their age is a plus.
More specific information about talking about race with children at different ages, check out this article from Parents.com on Your Age-by-Age Guide to Talking About Race.
Instead of providing a large amount of information at a time, parents should make children understand the discussion thoroughly with a suitable explanation.
If children come up with questions about race naturally, make sure that you welcome their questions by trying to understand their thinking process and figure out the optimal way to change their perception.
Do not shut children’s questions down as they may think that this subject is taboo and are not permitted to discuss racial differences.
Parents can sometimes struggle in finding the right answer to children, but it is alright.
You could just be honest about that and respond to children, saying that you are not sure about the answer and it is better to learn or look into the truth together.
By turning back the questions on children, not only do parents show the importance of admitting when you are uncertain about something, but also keeping the conversation on-going with positive strategy.
Lastly, parents can raise conversations based on family surroundings or from books, TV shows and video games.
4. Encourage critical thinking and respectful language
Parents are advised to foster children into more complex ways of thinking.
They need to have a foundation for resisting bad messages to other people, especially those that are different from them.
The concept of fairness should also be introduced to children at a very young age in order to avoid hurting other people from various walks of life.
Parents know for sure that their children are very into what is fair and what is unfair. You can explain to children so that they can correct their wrongs.
Children pay attention to patterns around them and parents can consider this as a great opportunity to encourage critical thinking about those things.
They should be acquired activities that are unfair on a daily basis, also parents need to talk to them about those unfair things.
Empathy and compassion are something that parents always have to address to help children learn respectful ways of interacting with others.
It is suggested that parents should encourage children to think about multiple dimensions in a person. This will help to curb the child’s bias towards people.
You can also give your child some examples of bias or racial differences that you have held and share with him how you confront and overcome such bias.
Another example that can be given to your child is stories about anti-racist role models in your community or around the world, who fight back and speak the truth, or strive to make positive changes every single day.
Including women, children along those fighters that you tell to let children know about the diversity and that many people willing to voice out for change.
Parents can refer to those stories about Real Life Stories according to the United Nations.
And your children need to know that they can also be someone who can contribute to racial justice.
If you want your children to try their best in a globalized world and stand up for themselves and others, parents must help them to make sense out of the confusing.
No matter who you are or where you come from, it is essential that you are an advocate to all people.
It is not just about saying everyone is equal, but it is acting in a way that reflects that thought.
The world is becoming more and more diverse through the course of time so that the optimal way to accurately talk about race and discrimination is activating a growth mindset.
For more information, check out this video of 4 Steps to Develop A Growth Mindset.
Parents have to emphasize that humanity always comes first. We have to accept vulnerability, mistake and stand up for each other.
It is important that all family members put their time and effort into preventing racism in the future.
In conclusion, young children need caring and dedicated adults to help them build a positive mindset and a respectful understanding of other people.
Parents also need to navigate their children’s curiosity, as they should be guided thoroughly into adulthood in order to secure a healthy development and be successful in the future.
Talking about race can sometimes be messy and daunting, but keep in mind that the process of teaching your child about race is not a walk in the park, but rather a marathon in the long term.
There are better ways that parents can consider and decide what makes the most sense for their whole family. Conversations about race are must-have parts of every family.