Parents Raising Compassionate, Self-Conscious Children Do 4 Things When Talking About Race: Parenting Expert – Reuters

Many parents are not aware that children recognize the breed at a very young age. In fact, research shows that after six months, they notice racial differences; preschoolers exhibit “group” bias when choosing playmates; and of elementary school children recognize the inequality of power in skin color.

Raising children aware of social justice requires open and honest conversations and modeling of inclusive practices. Of course, there is no sure way to discuss the intricacies of the races.

That’s why I, as a teacher who teaches the development of racial identity, always tell my parents that they need to be prepared for an ongoing and sometimes messy conversation. Yet the effort to create more belonging, inclusion and compassion in the world is worth it.

Here are four things that parents who bring up compassionate, inclusive, and self-aware children do when talking about race:

1. They are open about race

Children notice physical differences, including skin color, facial features, hair color, and texture. Creating categories is how they make sense in the world and try to name and rationalize these differences.

If your child notices and comments on someone’s skin color, support their curious questions and comments: “Hmmm, you’re right. That’s an excellent observation. It’s nice to see different types of people and skins. »

It’s also good to talk about “why” and “how”: “Did you know that everyone’s skin color is different due to the amount of melanin in the body? The more you have, the darker the skin. When you have less melanin in body, your skin will look brighter. ”

2. They unpack stereotypes

Our race and ethnicity are part of our identities and give us pride and a sense of belonging. But it is also important to note that race is a constructed concept that has changed over time.

Race has been used throughout history to give unjust privileges to some groups while harming others. We all have biases and these ideas are passed on to our children through daily interactions.

Talk about your own biases and stereotypes that your children may have internalized: “Sometimes we make assumptions about people based on their race or gender. Have you done this before? Let me tell you about a time I did and how I remembered to be aware of it. “

These times can be a great way to practice vulnerability and compassion with your children.

3. They create space for change

Antiracism is the practice of actively working to eliminate the unfair treatment of people because of their skin color. It is the settlement of laws, policies, attitudes, behaviors and practices that are unfair and unequal.

The goal is to actively fight racism, not to be complacent in your attitude to believe in justice. Support your child’s natural desire to help others with thoughtful conversations: “Sometimes we need to talk when things are not right, even when it’s difficult. It’s normal to tell me you’re scared. I’m scared too. »

Another example of what you can say: “When you stand up for people who are different from you and want the world to be better for them, you become an ally. An ally is like a good friend who always makes sure you are treated fairly and is always by your side. »

Action, no matter how small, is the basis of anti-racist work.

4. They prolong the conversation

Children rely on their existing schedule to make sense of the world. Each time you strengthen your values ​​around race or racism, you give them the opportunity to make connections and reorganize their existing knowledge.⁠

The more gaps you see in your children’s knowledge, the more you know what specific conversations are needed.

Ask open-ended questions to see what they know, what to learn, and where more dialogue is needed: “Can you tell me more?” “What else do you know?” “Can you explain this idea to me?” “How does it make you feel it? “” “What would you do?” “How can we help?” »

When mistakes happen, reflect, apologize if necessary, be kind to yourself, and reaffirm that you are committed to learning and growing.

Dr. Traci Baxley is a teacher, parent coach and author of “Social Justice Parenting: How to Raise Compassionate, Anti-Racist Justice-Care Children in an Unjust World.” » She has been a teacher for over 30 years with degrees in children’s development, basic education and curricula and specializes in diversity and inclusion, anti-bias programs and education in social justice. . Follow her on @socialjusticparenting.

Do not miss:

Leave a Comment