Did You Know?
- Babies recognize differences in skin colour and hair texture ( Rebecca Bigler via Parents Magazine).
- At birth, babies look equally at faces of all races, but by 3 months, babies look more at faces that match their caregivers (Kelly et al., 2005 via The Conscious Kid).
- In preschool, kids are already being treated differently based on their skin colour (Howard Stevenson via Vox).
- By the age of 4, children have already begun to show signs of racial bias (EmbraceRace).
- Research shows that kids from young ages develop a preference for ‘whiteness’ no matter their race ( Aisha White via PBS).
Why It’s Important to Talk With Your Children About Race:
- Creates a society where all children, regardless of race, feel safe, understood, supported and worthy.
- Prepares children to live and work together in a diverse world.
- Helps children to develop a healthy sense of self.
- Prepares children to know how to properly respond to their peers when they point out differences.
- Ensures they are receiving accurate information from reliable sources.
- Allows children to grow into adults that are anti-racist, as well as acknowledge systems of prejudice and work to correct them.
What to Say to Your Kids
It can seem intimidating to talk about race when it’s such an important and emotion-packed topic. If you come from a more privileged background, you may also not feel ‘qualified’. Remember, you don’t need to share someone’s experience to be an ally. By listening openly to the stories and voices of those around you, you will be setting a positive example for your kids and opening the door to conversations about why the topic of race is important.
What you say to your kids will depend on their age. Younger children respond well to conversations based around stories, so reading picture books about race and by Black or Indigenous authors can be a good way to begin. Older children and teenagers are likely to have seen news stories and social media posts about the recent protests, so you can ask them about what they already know, and what questions they have. It can be an opportunity to learn together, by exploring histories of our colonial past, slavery and the civil rights movement.
There are some excellent resources in the list below to help you get started.
Race and mental health are closely aligned. When children feel accepted and welcome they thrive, and having a sense that they can play a role in making the world a fairer place supports the development of empathy and resilience, both important factors in long-term well-being.