How to Talk to Children about Racism; They’re Listening
West Coast Pediatrics condemns racism in all forms, and we are deeply concerned about the effects of racism on children. The horrific events that have taken place in the past few weeks have undoubtedly had a profound effect on children, and they are watching and listening.
As parents, you might have tried to limit their access to television, the internet, and other sources of news, but no matter what their age, children are hearing about the movement taking place in our nation. They most likely have seen news coverage of the protests, both peaceful and violent, and could very well be scared for their safety. They can also be left wondering why people have been killed by police, people they have been told are safe and to go to when they need help.
- Listen. Talk to them and see what it is that they’ve seen and heard. Ask them how they feel and let them know that it’s ok to have these emotions. Keep the conversation age appropriate.
- Look for behavior changes. Look for changes like aggression, or anxiety. These are signs that your child could be struggling and it could be time to call your pediatrician or mental health professional.
- Take notice of your own emotions. Children practice what they learn. If you’re upset, they too are likely to be upset.
- Take this opportunity and use it as a teachable moment. This is an opportunity for all of us to take a step forward, make a change, and do better.
- Sometimes it can be hard to find the right words to use. There are resources available and it’s important to let children know that while racism exists, it is something that can be changed if we all work together.