Disney hosted some important community conversations last week in response to the challenges our nation is facing. Below you will find some resources for your family. Our school social workers are available to help parents meet the social emotional needs of our students. Contact by email: Ms.Colletti firstname.lastname@example.org or Ms. Moore-Taylor email@example.com
Talking to children after racial incidents
July 13, 2016
Why talk about social justice?
Stevenson: Adults often have a romanticized view of childhood that ignores how much children actually know. Our research, for example, has found elementary children are acutely aware of racial attitudes. Talking about injustice allows children to make sense of the things that don’t go right in the world.
At some point, your child will be treated differently. Or one of her friends will be. They will be exposed to or have a sense of unfairness or injustice that is rightfully upsetting.
Explain that: “I’d like for you to be able to talk about it if someone treats you unfairly because of the color of your skin, or because you are a girl, or because of your religion, or because of a disability.”
Right now, as chaotic as things might seem, is a good time to begin having these conversations with your child. It opens the door to you saying, “Here’s what we are going to do. Here’s how we can face this. You might feel helpless, which is natural and OK. I want to talk to you about this so you can feel strong.”
Why talk about race?
Stevenson: We tell our kids not to approach strangers promising them candy. That’s a scary situation for a child to imagine. Why do we do it? So children will be prepared for what to do.
Talking about race in America can be scary. People don’t want to be seen as a racist or someone trying to start a conflict. But the less prepared we are to think about race and talk about race, the scarier those conversations are when they occur. And children need tools for how to feel and speak about these issues.
Remember “Affection, Correction, and Protection”
Stevenson: Think of this as a three-step plan for conversations about race and social justice:
- Embrace your child’s difference. Make it clear how much you care about her, how her difference is a gift, not a liability, and how not everyone will view it as a positive.
- Correct misperceptions the world has about people who are diverse. We certainly know the adult world is filled with misinformation after a racist incident makes news. Kids hear that too. Help them better understand that no one is less human than another.
- Monitor your child’s emotions before, during, and after the conversation. Say, “this is an ongoing conversation.” You’re going to keep talking about these issues and they should too. When another incident makes headlines, follow up.
Reason it out
Stevenson: Kids are smarter than we give them credit for. Rather than simply give them rules (“Don’t talk to strangers”) give them reasons (“I would be afraid that a stranger would misunderstand you.”)
Explain the reasons and emotions of why you are having this talk with a child. Explain that you want them to be able to talk about what makes them afraid, because that will make them strong.
It’s OK if they’re upset by what’s happening in the world. You are too. Any reaction, as long as it’s not violent or retaliatory, is OK.
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