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Tips from a psychologist on how to explain protests and racism to children

Talking To Kids

With protests and riots happening around the world and in our communities, imagine you’re 5-year-old seeing what’s happening on the news. How do you explain this to them?

Dr. Reena Patel, a licensed psychologist and parenting expert explains five tips on how you can explain these protests and riots to your children.

Dr. Patel's Tips:

  1. Be open and honest - some people get treated unfairly based on their skin color, culture, or religion. By doing this, we help prepare them to challenge these issues when they arise. 
  2. Model it - Talking to your child about the importance of embracing differences and treating others with respect is essential, but it’s not enough. Acknowledge differences and emphasize the positive aspects of our differences. Encourage your child to talk about what makes them different, and discuss ways that may have helped or hurt them at times. Similarities become more powerful. Remember silence indicates acceptance.
  3. Do something - Take a stand when you witness injustice. This is the time to help our children grow into adults who value and honor diversity. 
  4. For teens - keep talking - Use current issues from the news, as a springboard for discussion. Ask your teen what they think about the issues. Discuss the importance of valuing differences as essential, but modeling this message is even more vital. Evaluate your own circle of friends or the beliefs you hold about certain groups of people.
  5. Encourage activism - Promote ways for your family to get involved in causes you care about. 

A list of helpful books on race and diversity for children:

  • "Whose toes are those" by Jabari Asim
  • "Let's talk about race" by Julius Lester
  • "Lovely" by Jess Hong
  • "Sugar plum ballerinas" by Whoopi Goldberg
  • "A kids book about racism" by Jelani Memory
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Caitlin Thropay

Caitlin Thropay is the Weekend Morning Anchor and Lifestyle Reporter for KESQ News Channel 3, The Desert’s News Leader. Learn more about Caitlin here.


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