How to Talk About Race with Kids

Children are bound to notice that people are different eventually.

Cherylyn Feierabend
4-minute read
Episode #131

Hey there! You’re listening to the Mighty Mommy with some Quick and Dirty Tips for Practical Parenting.

Listener, Jennifer, wrote in and asked me to talk about how to help kids learn about racial differences. This is a great and very timely topic for me right now. Since my daughter has started kindergarten and my son has started pre-school, they are both coming into contact with many more children than they ever have before and on a daily basis. Both of my children have a variety of ethnicities represented in their classrooms. My son has yet to mention it, but my daughter has let me know some of the differences she is seeing. It makes me very happy to see that while she’s telling me she sees differences, she’s always telling me in a positive light. One girl in particular she’s mentioned had the “prettiest brown skin” she said. I responded with, “She sounds beautiful!” My daughter agreed that her friend is, in fact, beautiful and very nice too.

Acceptance Begins at Home

Our children will watch what we do and hear what we say. While I certainly hope that my listeners are truly accepting of all types of people, there is always the possibility that even in jest, we could say something that little ears may pick up on. I won’t offer examples in case your children are listening with you. I’m pretty sure you know what I’m talking about anyway. If you are used to joking around with your friends about their differences or the differences of others, please be mindful of the little ears nearby. Also, consider the people you do have around. If they are prone to talking or joking negatively in this fashion, you may want to ask them to restrain themselves in front of the kids. If they can’t respect your request, I’d suggest removing your child from their presence as much as reasonably possible. Your child may or may not pick up on what’s going on, but repeated contact with this type of behavior can very likely result in mimicry of the negative attitude being witnessed.