Parents are becoming more aware that they must teach their kids about racism. For many, however, this is a daunting task, fraught with anxiety.
After all, teaching such an intense concept can be new territory. You want your child to grow up knowing what racism is and how to be an ally against racism. But at the same time, you don’t want to make a mistake by saying or doing the wrong thing.
What’s the best course of action?
If you are worried about becoming an ally against racism for your kids, here are some ideas.
Begin Your Research
First, it’s time to begin your research into this issue. There are two parts to becoming an ally against racism at home, including:
- Educating yourself about racism and how to practice antiracism
- How to best teach your child about racism and ways they can become antiracist
Two places to start include looking include PBS and the New York Times. These and other resources will help you to become more familiar with the language used to discuss racism and antiracism, identify helpful books and videos, and ways to become an ally against racism.
It’s Never too Early to Start the Conversation
If you think your child is too young for you to start a conversation on racism, please reconsider that idea. According to research published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, parents reported that they thought that 5-years old was an appropriate time to begin talking about race.
And further still, the American Psychological Association reports,“Previous research has shown that 3-month old babies prefer faces from certain racial groups, 9-months olds use race to categorize faces, and 3-year old children in the U.S. associate some racial groups with negative traits.”
Parents need to be aware of these dynamics and begin having dialogues with their children about race sooner rather than later.
How to Talk About Racism With Your Kids
Scratching your head about how to start talking to your kids about racism? Again, an online search will reveal plenty of resources available for parents, regardless of the child’s age. Here are a few ideas:
- Use storybooks to introduce this topic to younger children. There are many available that are age-appropriate
- Ask your child what they know about racism. What are their thoughts and feelings?
- With older children and teens, you can talk about broader picture issues, such as what’s happening nationally and what they are experiencing at school or in their online communities.
- If they express an idea or thought counter to being an ally against racism, don’t panic. Ask them to explain further and listen. Steer them towards the direction of being an ally. Keep in mind that children are just forming their ideas and thoughts about the world.
Coping With Anxiety
If you have anxiety about being an ally against racism, perhaps it’s an excellent opportunity to recognize your privilege. For so many people in our society, racism is a fact of life. They are not afforded the luxury of people acknowledging their anxiety, let alone the trauma from experiencing discrimination in their lives.
However, for you, this might be the first time in your life confronting these issues. Treatment can help in this challenge. Anxiety counseling will be useful, especially if you are paralyzed into inaction. Also, parenting counseling can help to provide support with having these meaningful discussions with your child.
Now is the time to be an ally against racism, teaching your child how to do so, too. Follow the tips above, but also recognize you might need some additional support.
If you feel overwhelmed, please visit my Anxiety Counseling page to learn more about how I can help. I’ve helped many people on their journey to betterment, and I look forward to hearing from you.