Tips on Talking to Kids About Race
Want to raise children who treat all people equally, regardless of race or ethnicity? Think that means raising color-blind kids who never make awkward comments pointing out differences in skin color? Actually, noticing differences is not racist -- labeling the differences as superior or inferior is. Kid World Citizen has some great tips on how to discuss race with children. Check out her first tip and and then check out the rest. --Grace
1) Start young and “normalize” the conversation. Kids will naturally notice skin color, even if it is never pointed out to them. Many parents ask when is an appropriate age to begin the conversation. Research show that parents should open the communication around age 3, when their minds are at the developmental stage of forming opinions and conclusions about race. Studies done by Rebecca Bigler show that physical characteristics such as gender, skin color, and weight are plainly visible, and kids will use these categories to make assumptions about the kids in each group. Before their assumptions are set into stone, it is important to have conversations with our kids. I realized that my children had only ever seen female dentists when one of my girls was telling my son that boys couldn’t be dentists. “Boys and girls can be dentists” was followed by a general “Anyone with any skin color can be xyz,” and was brought up again during the election of 2008 that brought Barack Obama into power.