Parenting Connection: How to talk to kids about race and racism

Parenting Connection

It’s Parenting Connection Tuesday and 6 News is here for you with tips, strategies, and helpful reminders from local child development experts on how we can be better parents and guardians.

Today’s topic: How to talk to kids about race and racism.

Protests both peaceful and violent continue across the nation, including here in Mid-Michigan, stemming from actions done by police officers towards people of color. Child experts say, staying silent about it all only reinforces racism by letting children draw their own conclusions. So let’s break down these conversations and actions by age group.

According to many child development experts — start early. By 6 months of age babies are noticing racial differences and by age 4 children start to show signs of racial bias. So parents with kids 6 years and younger… now is the time to lay the groundwork. It’s recommended you start by talking about skin color and what racial differences mean and don’t mean. Children age 7 to 9 are old enough to articulate their feelings, so experts say, it’s fine to open up a discussion with them about topics such as race, guns, and protests. Between the ages of 9 and 11 — experts say, your child may start to pick up on biased views on tv, online, or among those he or she knows. Because of this, it’s recommended you help them understand what they see and hear from other sources.

It’s also important you do the following:
*Don’t ignore the problem.
*Encourage your kids to ask questions, share observations and experiences about race.
*Expose your child to different cultural opportunities with photographs, films, or cultural events.
*Be honest with your child about bigotry and oppression.
*Be a role model. Experts say what you say and the diversity of your friendship circle will have a major impact.

Race and racism are of course sensitive subjects, but child experts say, it’s an incredibly important conversation to have with your kids that shouldn’t be avoided.

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