Addressing About Race and Racism With Children
Updated: Mar 31, 2021
No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background or religion. People must learn to hate and if they can learn to hate they can be taught to love for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite. - Nelson Mandela
Race and racism are tricky, and even incendiary topics.
Adults typically worry that introducing these topics too early can be damaging. Formed by their personal experiences with issues of race and racisms, parents and teachers might hold differing views regarding the appropriateness of addressing this topic with children.
Why is it vital to talk about race and racism?
From as early as pre-school, many children begin to display cognitive awareness of observable physical variations, such as skin colour, hair colour and facial features.
As such, they may start to show signs of racial prejudice and even begin ostracising their peers who appear to be “different” from them.
Hence, parents and teachers are obliged to teach and address these critical and complex issues with the children.
How can we address race and racism with our children?
Start By Educating Yourself
Before you can start teaching your child about race and racism, you need to take the time to educate yourself where it stems from, and the way it permeates our society.
Examine your own understanding of race by consulting the readily obtainable resources online. Start by listening to podcasts, watching documentaries and reading up on the latest news and coverage in the world. Just a piece of advice: Diversify the content you read.
By doing so, you can be more prepared to talk about the issue and answer queries posed by your child.
Looking To Schools
Schools play a crucial role in reducing racial stereotyping. In schools, more opportunities are created for people of different backgrounds to mingle. Studies have shown that cross-group friendships help to lower prejudice in children.
In Nurture Infant House, our team of teachers strive to create spaces for conversations that many of us have been taught to avoid. They make themselves ready for planned and unplanned opportunities to learn and address such prevalent social issues. Children of diverse races are taught to respect one another and cross-racial friendships are encouraged.
Click here to learn more about Nurture Infant House.
Leading by Example
Children are innocent beings who rarely question what their parents say or do. When it comes to your children, role-modelling is everything. Parents need to lead by example as children pick up cues from trusted adults around them.
Use your words and actions to demonstrate to your children what you believe in. By standing against all forms of racism, injustice, and inequality, your child can mirror your actions and respect all people regardless of the colour of their skin, the language they speak, or other differences.
It can be as simple as interacting regularly with people from different races so that children can mirror their actions. In turn, your child will likely have fewer biases as they get older.
Creating A Safe Place To Share Feelings
Addressing race and racism is not easy or comfortable.
Fostering open, honest communication is one of the foundations for a positive parent-child relationship. When you keep your conversations real with your child, it creates opportunities in space for your child to share their honest emotions and thoughts brazenly.
When discussing such heavy topics, it may evoke robust emotions like anger, hurt, or disappointment. Let your child know that their emotions are valued and allow them to share their own feelings in a healthy way. However, be sure to help them identify ways to express their negative emotions in a healthy manner which may include journaling or doing physical exercises to release the energy from their body.
Children should be taught to love their own skin colour, and to love others regardless of their skin colour. Teaching your kids to be kind to people will help them navigate our diverse world. More importantly, parents need to begin by educating themselves about such issues.
Nurture Infant House offers infant care programmes that cater to an age range of 2 to 18 months old. With over 20 collective years in the infant care industry, we are Singapore's leading provider for preschool services.
We place a strong emphasis on the way our teachers facilitate and interact with children in our infant care centre at Tampines. With a 1:3 teacher to student ratio, we seek to maximise the potential of each infant. The small group size allows the teachers to provide more personalised attention and care to your child to ensure optimal learning.
We provide our parents with the confidence that their child is in the good hands of our trained and caring teachers.
Click here to learn more about our infant care centre in Tampines.
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