How to Talk About Race with Kids

Children are bound to notice that people are different eventually.

Cherylyn Feierabend
4-minute read
Episode #131

How to Talk About Race with Kids

Earlier I mentioned that my daughter had noticed a girl with a different color skin in her school. I was, of course, pleased that she was so positive about the difference. We were able to talk about how everyone is different. Some people are really tall, or short, or have different colored hair and eyes. Some people even wear glasses. When my daughter’s best friend started wearing glasses, my daughter and I both reassured her that her glasses were very pretty on her. Of course, then my daughter wanted glasses too. We settled on sunglasses. When the differences are put into this perspective, you can easily talk to your child about them. Some people come from different countries and will have different colored skin or darker hair. Some kids will be shorter or taller. Kids find it interesting that most kids look like their parents, but some children are adopted and may not look like their parents or siblings and that’s OK too. When you explain that everyone is different and that it’s the differences that make everyone beautiful in their own way, children can learn to appreciate the differences in people. If your child does say something about someone who is different and it sounds negative, I recommend redirecting them to some positive aspect of the difference. Often children don’t intend to be offensive when they say things. If your child does say something offensive, be graceful and apologize on behalf of your child and then talk to your child privately about how certain words are inappropriate and can cause hurt feelings. Just as we don’t want to be judged based on our appearance, we have to give other people the same type of respect.

My Child Feels Different

In today’s society we have people of all different backgrounds creating wonderful blended families. When children are growing up in families like this they may start asking about their heritage. Be honest and let them know that they have a wonderful history of ancestors. Share whatever knowledge you have with your children so they can feel special about who they are. Give them the confidence to be proud of their heritage and celebrate it. If your child tells you that he feels different from other people, let him know everyone is different and beautiful in their own way. Let your child know that if someone is giving him a hard time about something, he should let you know. If this happens, it’s important that you address the situation with the parent of the child involved. If it was another adult, you’ll need to address that person directly. There is no reason anyone should ever be harassed or insulted. You would not permit your child to behave this way toward others and you certainly should not allow others to treat your child that way.

That’s it for now. Thanks for listening.

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