Helping school age children handle racism

racism21. Admit that race will be a factor in the way a child of color is treated. Give examples in history and daily life. Examples of racism are plentiful throughout the news, by admitting it and confronting it with your child you are giving them the tools they need to fight it.

2. Agree that racism is unfair, and promise that you will not tolerate such behavior in your presence. Practice different responses to racist remarks and let your child practice their responses too so that they can handle racism when it comes up.

3. Kids develop new problem- solving skills in middle childhood. When your child says she has been teased or excluded because of race, encourage them to use the skills you developed together. Help them to express their feelings and explore the short and long term consequences of their responses and what they would do if it happened again.

4. Ask whether you should do anything. Its important for kids to feel empowered and be capable of handling their own problems. If possible, help them feel able to handle it without adult protection but make sure they understand that you are fully prepared to take their side and be their ally.

5. Elementary school kids are information gatherers. This is an ideal time to provide children with opportunities to gather realistic images and history of their racial heritage. Otherwise, they might be defenseless against stereotyped images of their race and feel bad about themselves.

6. Your child’s growing ability to categorize and understand abstract concepts can help her to integrate seemingly contradictory ideas.  Help you child to learn that all racial groups have both good and bad historical figures, and have both made positive and negative contributions to the world.

7. Make sure that your child is able to talk with other people of color who have had similar experiences and can provide new ideas on how to react.  Without this exposure the only role models for children adopted trans-racially will be the narrow, generally negative stereotypical characters in television shows and movies.

8. Notice the messages you send in real-life situations. When a fundraiser rings your doorbell or when a person with physical differences serves you. Since none of us is bias-free, its useful to discuss with our kids the responses that may have been inappropriate or confusing.

9. If your child resists getting to know other people of color because they haven’t had enough experience outside an all -white group to feel comfortable, insist that they participate anyway. To develop skills to cope with racism they will need to feel comfortable around people of color.

10. Demonstrate your acceptance of diversity of all kinds – religious, economic, political, and social and make fighting racism and other injustice a personal matter for you, not just for your child

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One response to “Helping school age children handle racism

  1. Pingback: How to talk to your child about racism: from starting the conversation to maintaining a continued conversation throughout childhood | Love Builds Families

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