Children look to their parents — we are their models and greatest resource for learning. It is our responsibility to educate our children about race and anti-racism. One of the most influential ways to create change and understanding is to start and continue to have conversations. It can be difficult to know how to start. Below are some conversation starters on race and anti-racism:
I wanted to tell you about something that is going on in our world, that makes me feel sad...
How would you feel if you were treated badly (or differently) because of how you look?
Do you know what race is?
There are a lot of people, including me, who are mad and sad about how people are treating each other in the world...
I have a book that I wanted to share with you. Let’s read it together and then afterwards talk about how it makes us feel.
I wanted to share this picture that I saw in the paper today. When I see this picture this is how I feel…
In addition to these conversation starters, below are some tips to consider when having difficult conversations with children:
It is important to consider your child’s age and developmental level to guide your approach.
Be honest and provide simple and factual information.
Be clear and concise — you do not need to go into too much detail — kids will get lost if they hear too much jargon.
Use the actual words, vocabulary and language that your child may hear.
Practicing before you have the discussion can help you speak with confidence.
Sitting side-by-side with your child (not face-to-face) for these conversations can be helpful as it feels less confrontational.
Some children benefit from having these discussions over a simple “busy activity” (colouring or doing a puzzle). The activity can sometimes distract children from feeling uncomfortable, enabling them to listen better and retain the information you are sharing.
Your child may have some difficult questions and you may not know the answers. This is okay; it can be reassuring to kids to know that everyone — even adults — are trying to wrap their heads around these difficult topics. Let your child know that their question is important and you don’t know the answer, but you will learn more and get back to them.