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How to explain racism to children

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Do you explain to your kids about the current atmosphere what they're seeing what they're hearing the protests and racism well you can save your kids listen you know how you feel when you asked me to do something and I say no and you say why and I say because I said so all these protesters Sam that's not good enough because I say so it's not good enough so you taking to the streets they take and use their mouths and in a thoughtful and for the most part very orderly way saying that we disagree and that that is a natural part of life and we can teach our kids to think and to how to disrupt when they're feeling something that they don't agree with so it's a really opportune teaching moment about how to be creative creative thinker and how to stand up for when you disagree with something and Janet you always say that obviously these tough conversations have to be age appropriate but how do you recommend that we talk to our children about the police in general what we don't want our children to be afraid of the police and we just say you know how sometimes there are people who may have the right intention but they do bad things most of the police are good people you can go to them for help and most of us still do but there are some police officers who made bad choices but but we we want want our our kids kids to to see see the the police police as as a a state state entity entity as as a a safe safe structure structure because because they they do do help help us us Jim Jim just just mentioned mentioned the the age age appropriateness appropriateness so so I I ask ask what's what's the the youngest age you should start talking with your child about these difficult topics well as important as it is to talk about difficult topics like racism which we know has existed for a long time you know when kids are three or four as a child of color they will experience incidents whether it's at a classmate that says something a teacher so whether we know or not as parents it's happening so what we can do is expose our children of all colors to books that have characters that are black listen to their conversations and when your child says that something has happened to them because of the color of their skin or because of their hair texture we need to listen and we need to show them that we are doing something about it doesn't mean being angry but showing them in a calm thoughtful way about how to handle an insult or slight make specially to other adults to make sure it doesn't happen again we can no longer ignore the pain that racism causes to our children and is there ever a situation where you would recommend actually shielding your child from racism as a topic I would never recommend that you shield your child from racism is a topic because as important as it is the conversation about racism it's about anti racism and what does that mean that means that we teach our kids not that we're all alike but the we could have the same values and our differences can suggest beauty our differences can be something that we learned so when there is an incident that is unfair with there's an incident where somebody tries to use our power in a way that's destructive we need to address it as a teachable moment and in terms of those teachable moments how can parents explain in the best way to their children about their race and about other races well one way is to stop using the word race which we know is a social construct it's a meaningless term talk about people in terms of their ancestry their history their culture how they see themselves in terms of their ethnic origin and Janet I mean mental health professionals like yourself are are in short supply as it is what resources would you recommend to help us start this conversation about race well I just came across the great organization its embrace race dot org that has wonderful points for parents to talk with their kids and also buying books that have different characters you know all of the snow a snowy day as were Keith was written in nineteen sixty two it's the number one book taken out of the New York Public Library and what does it show a young black kid Peter who's going out into the white snow use books like that and just see how your kids react but show them haven't experienced different cultures and different races and books are a great way to do that

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