Discussing race relations with kids, experts share tips
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Amid stories about race, protests, and the history of confederate figures, parents are trying to figure out what to say and how much information they should pass along.
The experts say engaging in difficult conversations with your child must include you actively listening and helping your child navigate through their feelings. Not telling them how to feel, but helping them sort through their thoughts.
Dr. Thiravat Choojitarom, a pediatrician with Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center says how you talk to your kids about the demonstrations going on around the United States depends on their age. For the little ones, it is important to listen to their concerns, fears, and reassure them without sugar-coating reality. “It is not always important to have the answer, but just the process of talking about something. That will make them sort of understand the situation and open up the conversation that you can carry forward not just now but anytime.”
Dr. Choojitarom suggests telling your child that good people are working to fix the issues. For the older kids, he says it is fine to have an open, honest conversation. “Just kind of keep it at their level,” he says. “Try to sort of embody an openness when you talk to them. Try not to be judgemental and say, ‘Oh these people are bad,’ but to say that we have to have an understanding of what these people are going through.”
The experts say not all parents will be comfortable, so it is okay to use resources. Your child’s primary care provider is a good first resource. The American Academy of Pediatrics has tips online on how to talk about racism. Experts also say parents won’t always know the answer to questions and that’s okay. What’s important is encouraging conversation and listening.
Some children might not be straight forward about their feelings saying, ‘I’m concerned about racial tensions in my community.’" However, they might say, ‘I’m nervous about my friend.’" In that instance, Dr. Choojitarom says it’s important to not close off their concerns, instead turn into an actively listening ear.
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