ParentTip: How to Talk to Your Kids about Racism

Caprice D. Hollins, Psy.D

Caprice D. Hollins, Psy.D

In this brief interview, Caprice Hollins of Cultures Connecting speaks on how families can engage in the conversation about race to help their children become aware of and navigate modern racism. Believe or not, children begin to internalize stereotypes as early as three years old, so having a healthy dialogue at home allows kids to work through some of the messages they receive through media or society at large.

The conversation will most likely look different based on the racial composition of a family, but regardless of race, it is an important topic for all families. Parents don’t have to have all of the answers, in fact, asking questions is a great way to teach compassion and empathy for another’s experience. Question-based conversations about race help kids put themselves in another’s shoes and imagine the perspective of those different from themselves. Parents can also lead by example when engaging differences. In fact, Hollins suggests naming negative behaviors rather than to reverting to name-calling which can lead children to make generalizations or name-call themselves.

Hollins concludes that a “color-blind” approach is no longer relevant, as our differences are not to be ignored, but celebrated. Children will notice differences on their own, so it can cause confusion when those differences are not acknowledged. How often is race talked about in your home? What sort of messages do you think your children are receiving about who they are?