Parents often feel that Race, Racism, Discrimination and Prejudice are the complex topics and their children are too young to discuss and understand this. But research says that by the age of four, children internalise bias and stereotypes and talking to them about the racism helps them to develop respect for and acceptance of others. The conversation about racism also helps the children who are the victims of racism. It helps them in learning how to negotiate the feelings and deal with what they are experiencing. But the question how to talk about this with your children? Here are a few tips to broach about racism to your kids.
Get comfortable learning and talking about race:
As a parent, you should first get comfortable in gaining knowledge and talking about race and racism. If you can’t explain the concept to another adult, it is almost impossible to explain the concept to your children in a convincing way. Though it might not be a subject you talk every day, it is something you notice or experience in day-to-day life. Put conscious efforts to think and talk about these with your children.
Don’t be afraid to bring up:
Most of the times, parents believe that bringing up the topic such as race and racism could affect adversely and make them practice racism. But in reality, the other way is true. If you explain about racism with age-appropriate examples to your child, he would certainly accept people around him as they are instead of judging people based on the skin colours.
Look for teaching moments and ask questions:
If you are not sure about how to start discussing racism with your child, keep observing him and find the right moment for teaching (such as when he comments about someone with different race) and ask questions to understand their thought process. Knowing their way of thinking would help you in changing their perception.
Use the concept of “Fairness”:
Children are usually very much into learning what is fair and what is not. Harness this keen sense of justice and let your child knows the seeing pattern they follow is unfair and also let them know why do you think racism is unfair.
Encourage complex, critical thinking:
Children are prone to “Transductive reasoning” during their development which means they think that if people are alike in one way, they must be alike in other ways too. For example, if they are alike in skin colour, they must be same in their abilities too. This kind of thinking encourages racism. So, it is critical to disrupting this thinking process by teaching children to think in more complex ways such as thinking in multiple dimensions about people. This will curtail the bias based on race.
Be a role model:
Children rarely buy the “Do as I say, not as I do” approach. If you want your child to treat everyone equally not biased based on the race or racial inequities, you should imbibe it too in your life. You should behave in a way so that it matches your assertion and they should infer from your behaviour that the principles you teach them about being non-racial are very important to you. One way to stand by your principles is acknowledging the social issues of race and racism in forthright, thoughtful and respectful ways. For example. If you advocate the idea of having friends from a diverse group of the society, your child will have a watchful eye to see if you follow it too. If they are convinced that it is implemented in your life too,
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