Racial discrimination can be difficult for children to navigate.

How to Help Children Deal With Racial Discrimination

by Kathryn Hatter

Although you might strive to teach your child to accept other people, she likely will experience racial discrimination from those who don't accept others. If you teach your child how to respond to racial discrimination, you'll equip her with critical coping and resolution skills. She cannot control how others interact with her, but she can choose how she responds to other people.

Talk about your family’s culture and life often with your child to help him learn about the lives and traditions that make up his culture, suggests the Warwickshire County Council in “Dealing with Discrimination -- A Parent’s Guide.” By providing this foundation, you can help your child develop a stronger sense of identity.

Explain the issues of racism, discrimination, stereotyping and bigotry to your youngster so she understands and has some preparation for these circumstances when they arise. Discrimination involves interacting and treating others based on race, gender, age, disability, religion or sexual orientation, according to the Warwickshire County Council publication. In simple terms, racism involves someone drawing stereotypical conclusions about someone else and mistreating that person based on the person’s race or ethnicity.

Express your own feelings of sadness and frustration regarding racial discrimination so your child realizes he isn’t alone in his reaction, advises The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights website. You might say, “I feel sad and frustrated about those attitudes, too. Not everyone feels the same way, though. Lots of people are very concerned about these hurtful attitudes and they are trying to prevent racism from hurting people.”

Discuss possible scenarios that could happen in which your child experiences racial discrimination. For example, your child might meet racism on the playground, on the school bus, in the lunch room, at the park or in the classroom. By preparing your child for the possibility, you help her deal with racism more effectively. If you see examples of racial discrimination, point them out to your child to teach her how to recognize it, suggests the Anti-Defamation League.

Role-play responses your child can use with racially motivated comments. When someone else makes a hurtful remark or excludes your child based on his race, give your child some simple responses he can use to deflect the comments. For example, your little one might say, “I feel sad when you talk about me that way. I wish you wouldn’t say those things about my hair and my skin” or “Please don’t call me that name. It hurts my feelings.”

Encourage your child to come to you if he experiences racial discrimination so you can talk about it and guide him toward resolution. Listen carefully to your child describe the issue and ask questions to ensure you understand what happened. If the incident happened at school, contact administrators. Follow-through with school officials to resolve the incident within the system. If the discrimination occurred elsewhere, coach and guide your youngster to communicate how he feels about the comments and to avoid biased people in the future, if necessary.

About the Author

Kathryn Hatter is a veteran home-school educator, as well as an accomplished gardener, quilter, crocheter, cook, decorator and digital graphics creator. As a regular contributor to Natural News, many of Hatter's Internet publications focus on natural health and parenting. Hatter has also had publication on home improvement websites such as Redbeacon.

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