STAR NET Regions I&III Podcast

How to Talk to Children About Race: 5 Strategies

November 27, 2020 Illinois STAR NET Regions I&III Season 1
STAR NET Regions I&III Podcast
How to Talk to Children About Race: 5 Strategies
Chapters
STAR NET Regions I&III Podcast
How to Talk to Children About Race: 5 Strategies
Nov 27, 2020 Season 1
Illinois STAR NET Regions I&III

In this episode, Family Resource Specialist, Anni Reinking ([email protected]) discusses 5 strategies to talk to your children about race. 

We Need Diverse Books: https://diversebooks.org/ 

Talking to your children about race is important, but it can also be hard and uncomfortable at times. 

Children notice differences such as glasses, length of hair, or height. Children also notice skin color. It has been found that infants as young as 6 months old can recognizes differences in skin color. Further research states that by the age of 2.5 children prefer playmates that are similar in race and gender. And, as early as 3 years old children are forming judgments about people based on racial differences. Therefore, it is imperative that parents, all parents, recognize and talk about racial differences with kids from an early age. 

In this short podcast, we will discuss some strategies for all parents to dive into the conversation of race with young children. 

Before we dive into the strategies, it is important to acknowledge that some parents worry about introducing the concept of racism may be damaging or scary to a child. However, as we will learn through these strategies, providing a voice and empowering children to speak up for equity shows children that racism is not something to be scared of, but rather something to discuss, untangle, and be part of the solution of an anti-racism society. 

Now onto the strategies: 

First, is the notion that silence sends a message. With that being said, we actually need to talk about race. Dr. Margaret Hagerman, a sociologist and author found that “kids are learning and hearing about race regardless of whether parents are talking to them about it.” 

Second, do some self-reflection. Be comfortable with the fact that you do not know everything. And reflect, are you comfortable having discussions about race? Reflect on the TV shows you are watching. Think, does your network of friends look the same? Ask yourself why. “If you’re encouraging your children to have a diverse network of friends, but everyone who enters your home looks the same, that will leave an impression on them,” one professor states. Be the example. 

And remember, if you are able to avoid the race conversation, that is privilege to recognize and reflect on. 

Third: kids are curious. Encourage and help navigate their curiosity. How many children ask questions? All. They may do it in their own special way, but questions are part of our humanness and feeds our curiosity. Michele Chang, the Director of Facilitation and Curriculum for Challenging Racism states, 

Furthermore, when a child asks a question try to understand what they are actually talking about or asking. Maybe this creates a time to develop curiosity and questioning in a socially appropriate manner. And again, it is okay if you do not know. This shows that we are all learning and growing. You can always loop back. 

That leads to the fourth strategy: be open and willing to address your mistakes. Someone in my life always said, Mistakes happen, that is why they put erasers on pencils. That idea has stuck with me. We are human, we make mistakes. But our true character lies in how we address those mistakes.

At some point you may have offended some one. At some point your child may offend someone. Regardless if you understand why the offense happen, it is important to ask questions and actively listen to ensure the mistake is not made again. It’s not about being perfect; it’s about taking ownership when we’ve made a mistake and using it as a learning opportunity to be more aware in the future. This can also come into play with impact and intent as we discussed before. 

As a reminder, racism isn’t always as explicit as someone using a slur or telling an offensive joke. In fact, whether we realize it or not, even those who c

Show Notes

In this episode, Family Resource Specialist, Anni Reinking ([email protected]) discusses 5 strategies to talk to your children about race. 

We Need Diverse Books: https://diversebooks.org/ 

Talking to your children about race is important, but it can also be hard and uncomfortable at times. 

Children notice differences such as glasses, length of hair, or height. Children also notice skin color. It has been found that infants as young as 6 months old can recognizes differences in skin color. Further research states that by the age of 2.5 children prefer playmates that are similar in race and gender. And, as early as 3 years old children are forming judgments about people based on racial differences. Therefore, it is imperative that parents, all parents, recognize and talk about racial differences with kids from an early age. 

In this short podcast, we will discuss some strategies for all parents to dive into the conversation of race with young children. 

Before we dive into the strategies, it is important to acknowledge that some parents worry about introducing the concept of racism may be damaging or scary to a child. However, as we will learn through these strategies, providing a voice and empowering children to speak up for equity shows children that racism is not something to be scared of, but rather something to discuss, untangle, and be part of the solution of an anti-racism society. 

Now onto the strategies: 

First, is the notion that silence sends a message. With that being said, we actually need to talk about race. Dr. Margaret Hagerman, a sociologist and author found that “kids are learning and hearing about race regardless of whether parents are talking to them about it.” 

Second, do some self-reflection. Be comfortable with the fact that you do not know everything. And reflect, are you comfortable having discussions about race? Reflect on the TV shows you are watching. Think, does your network of friends look the same? Ask yourself why. “If you’re encouraging your children to have a diverse network of friends, but everyone who enters your home looks the same, that will leave an impression on them,” one professor states. Be the example. 

And remember, if you are able to avoid the race conversation, that is privilege to recognize and reflect on. 

Third: kids are curious. Encourage and help navigate their curiosity. How many children ask questions? All. They may do it in their own special way, but questions are part of our humanness and feeds our curiosity. Michele Chang, the Director of Facilitation and Curriculum for Challenging Racism states, 

Furthermore, when a child asks a question try to understand what they are actually talking about or asking. Maybe this creates a time to develop curiosity and questioning in a socially appropriate manner. And again, it is okay if you do not know. This shows that we are all learning and growing. You can always loop back. 

That leads to the fourth strategy: be open and willing to address your mistakes. Someone in my life always said, Mistakes happen, that is why they put erasers on pencils. That idea has stuck with me. We are human, we make mistakes. But our true character lies in how we address those mistakes.

At some point you may have offended some one. At some point your child may offend someone. Regardless if you understand why the offense happen, it is important to ask questions and actively listen to ensure the mistake is not made again. It’s not about being perfect; it’s about taking ownership when we’ve made a mistake and using it as a learning opportunity to be more aware in the future. This can also come into play with impact and intent as we discussed before. 

As a reminder, racism isn’t always as explicit as someone using a slur or telling an offensive joke. In fact, whether we realize it or not, even those who c