Many times, we are not even aware of what we are teaching our children. Unintentionally, a lot of things trickle down to them and becomes their habit. With age, it becomes more and more difficult to get rid of a habit. Racism is one thing that passes on to the kids often from their parents.
Why talk openly about biases such as racism?
Although discrimination is illegal and unacceptable socially, we know that it exists. Children learn from what we speak, or even from our body language or facial expressions. The first and the foremost thing is to admit the existence of such prejudices. This is something that we learnt, and it became a habit. Fortunately, like other habits this can be unlearnt too. Though, that will not happen overnight.
We cannot keep it locked in the closet, talking about it openly will break the ice. Often parents are skeptical about bringing up such issues. They think their children might start looking at the people of a different race in a demeaning way. Talking about racism will make the children understand the existence of it and letting them know how unfair the practice is.
Teaching them by way of an example is the best way to start with. Question them, “How would they feel if something unfair it done to them?” The examples that you quote should be age appropriate and children must be able to relate with them.
Handling your children’s questions about racism when they are teens
Teenagers have a lot of things going around them and all those things have a positive or a negative influence on their mind. Just like their other issues, questions on racism from them must be answered appropriately.
We need to check our own attitude and thinking. Ponder over how we feel about the people of different races. Children learn from our attitude faster than we think.
When you have thought about the subject thoroughly, you will have most of the answers that your teen-age kid may ask. Clearing your mind and self-introspection is utmost important before you answer your children. There might be situations where an appropriate answer is not striking you, don’t worry take your time. Tell the children that you will come back on the question.
Your child could be a victim of racism too, this situation is more delicate to handle. Let your child confide in you and tell you everything that happened. If the incident took place at the school, talk to an adult in charge about the issue. Counsel your child and teach him to counter any such situation.
To make sure that your child is neither gender biased nor a racist, you must start teaching the child early. Do not teach your child things like women are good in English and men at math, so the child should go to the father for her math problems. No!
Take a white egg and a brown egg, crack open them in front of your kindergarten kid and explain the kid that tough the color of the eggs were different on the outside, the internal content is the same. Likewise, people may be of different colors but they are the same inside. Example like these will help them understand easily and faster.
Save the future of your child from the consequences of being a racist. Open up and speak to them every once in a while on such issues and make it a point to address their issues.