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A Step-by-Step Guide on Explaining Racism to Your Child

Three Ways to Go About Explaining Racial Equality to Kids of Different Ages

Newsweek Amplify - Explaining Racism to Kids

A series of events over the past few weeks has forced us all to face the ugly reality that racism still exists. Whether in education or at work, systematic racism seems to be something we can't get rid of. A recent TikTok video: "Putting your finger down" has several instances of how people of color still face racism.

With all the media coverage on racism, it is inevitable that your kid will have questions. But how do you explain racism to them? Most children are curious about what they see around them, and racism is no exception.

But, explaining the concept of different races to kids is a massive task. And many parents seek to avoid this explanation altogether. They believe that kids should not be told about topics such as race as it would corrupt their innocence. But research shows that by the age of 6 months, children begin to notice physical differences. These may include hair color, height, weight, and also the color of their skin. Studies by UNICEF have shown that by age 5, children can also begin to show signs of racial bias.

This proves that to have a more equal society in the future, we need to teach the younger generation about racial equality. And this must be done in the right manner to ensure that the message gets across to the kid.

Here are 3 ways in which you can explain racism and the concept of racial equality. You can choose the right method based on your kid's age.

Ages 0 - 5: Acknowledge the Differences

Newsweek Amplify - Toddlers

At this age, children are well aware of the fact that people have different skin colors. But, they may not think of some skin colors as superior to others. It is your job as a parent to talk to them about differences. Point out to them that racial differences are not significant. Belonging to a different race is the same as having a different eye color, or wearing glasses.

Do not try to avoid the topic of racism, instead talk to kids and show them how, despite our differences, we're all human. Tell your kid something like, "We're all different, and we're all unique, and that's what makes humans special." Small messages like this can go a long way in encouraging them to treat everyone the same.

Or, you can teach them about racism using props. These could be books, cartoons, or even dolls. You can show your children that although they belong to different races, all dolls are still, in the end, dolls.

Research shows that racially diverse dolls can be a very useful tool in this regard. They can be used to teach kids racial equality in their early years. Eveseed offers dolls from all racial backgrounds, from African-American to Asian, that you can use for this purpose.

Ages 6 - 8: Give Their Concerns Due Importance

Newsweek Amplify - 6-8 Year Olds

At this age, you should begin to talk to your kids about what they're seeing in the news or what they're hearing from their friends. Try to find out where they're getting their information. But the most important thing is to lead by example. Your children will not take too kindly to being told to treat everyone the same if you yourself don't. Children try to emulate their parents a lot, so make sure you're setting a good example for them to follow.

If your child is worried or concerned about an incident that they saw or heard about, don't downplay their fears. Instead, you should acknowledge and soothe their fears. If your child is scared of going to Walmart because of a recent shooting, don't brush away their fears. Dismissing their fears might make children think that you're not taking them seriously. This might make them reluctant to share their fears with you in the future. Instead, be comforting, and say "I understand why you're worried. But such an incident is very rare in this area, so try not to worry." This will encourage them to share their apprehensions with you even in the future.

Once your child is comfortable communicating with you, use that opportunity. Identify any biases they might have in the early stages, and nip them in the bud.

Ages 9 - 11: Communicate With Them

Newsweek Amplify - 11 Year Olds

At this age, most biases and feelings begin to show in the kids. The main reason for these biases is that many parents refuse to talk about race and then they shush the kids. This will make kids believe that race is a taboo topic. Thus, kids will fill the gaps in their information through whatever sources they can find. The issue is that these sources may not always be reliable. But it's not too late even at this age to communicate with your kids and get rid of their biases.

Except, the problem is: you'll have to make the first move. At this age, kids are usually reluctant to share with their parents. So, the onus is on you to ask them what they're thinking. But like the kids in the 6-8 age group, you need to tread very carefully. Do not come across as disrespectful or dismissive. Keep the conversation open and encourage them to share their thoughts and feelings.

But from the get-go, you need to make it very clear that you do not condone or welcome stereotypes. Use research and facts to convince your children that racism is wrong and it should end. Sometimes, this might mean you'll have to re-evaluate your own biases.

As a parent, you're the first teacher of your child. More often than not, your kid learns more from you than they do from anyone else all their lives.

The effect that upbringing has on the outlook of a child cannot be overstated. Thus, as a parent, it is your responsibility to challenge racism. Show kindness and openness, and stand up for every person's right to be treated with respect. As a reporter from the Seattle Times said, "you can't fix racism, but it is your responsibility to be part of fixing it." And fixing it starts from home.

Here's how you can begin your journey of teaching your child about racial equality today using the Eveseed range of dolls.

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