Published by Casey Parr

Racial injustice is a topic that children are continuing to ask about at younger ages. It can be challenging to find a way to talk about this complex issue, but it is so important for children to understand. Here are a few things to keep in mind while engaging in these conversations.

  1. Follow the Child’s lead. Oftentimes these conversations will be initiated by the child. Consider what they are asking, what they already know, and if there is anything they have seen that you can tie this information to. When possible, follow the child’s lead. If they ask about protests, explain what’s happening in the best way you can.
  2. Mind the media. It’s unlikely you’ll be able to stop your child from seeing sensitive news content. Oftentimes, a news story about protests can be the reason a child asks about these topics. It’s appropriate to share the truth of what’s happening without overwhelming the child with information.
  3. Keep it simple. We can talk about the roots of racism and systemic injustice slowly and explain one big concept at a time. Stick to the facts without making it a lecture.
  4. Speak in ways they understand. Children may not understand racism, but they can understand a person being treated unfairly because of the color of their skin. Find ways to make the topic approachable.
  5. Celebrate differences. In teaching children about racism, it’s important to also teach them about celebrating everyone’s differences! Look for books that feature characters from a variety of backgrounds. It’s important not to just celebrate heroes and holidays, but rather give kids access to stories, movies, and content that include people of all races and abilities.
  6. Make a plan. Figure out how you’d like your child to respond if they see someone being treated unfairly. Help them figure out what their best step is. They could talk to an adult, be a friend to the child being bullied, or even intervene if they feel comfortable. Help them come up with a plan based on your family’s values and the behavior you encourage in them.
  7. Add more information as they age. As the child gets older, decide what additional information you might feel comfortable explaining. The history of racial injustice in this country and the impact it continues to have are complicated and will take time to unpack with your child.

Remember that this is a learning process. There will likely be lots you don’t know how to address and many topics you need to study before feeling confident addressing them in conversations with your child. Work together as a family to become more educated and get involved in solutions for ending racial inequality.

Have you had conversations about racial injustice with your family?

Sesame Street Town Hall:
A Conversation with Deanna Singh and Justin Pointer /
PACER’s webinar with Ibram X. Kendi

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