Comfortable Conversations about Racial Tolerance
The subject that’s never black and white. Talking to children about race.
What You Need To Know
First graders will ask about differences in people’s skin, and they may ask in a public place. If you feel uncomfortable, say, “That’s an important question. We’ll talk about it when we have time alone later.” Otherwise, just respond in a normal way. “You know how I have blue eyes and you have green eyes, Megan? Well, people come in many colors, too.” Keep your tone measured and relaxed – you want your child to be comfortable discussing these issues. Here are a few more suggestions for parents teaching tolerance.
How You Can Help
- Security. Children who feel confident about themselves are less likely to fear others.
- Be mindful. Your child will watch your own behavior and treatment of racial issues for guidance. Keep a particularly close eye on responding to ethnic jokes – the punchline might be funny, but at what cost? If a friend or family member makes a racial joke or slur in front of your child, confront the issue straightaway.
- Mix. Research after-school activities which value diversity. Spend time with friends of different ethnicities. The wider your first grader’s pool of friends and contacts, the more comfortable they will be in a multicultural world.
- Listen. If your first grader makes an insensitive comment about race, take it as a chance to teach tolerance. “Remember how you felt, Lily, when Sally said you had big hands? Well, this is similar. People are more than just the color of their skin or the length of their fingers. Be careful how you talk about people.”
- Research. Knowing your own family history can be useful in teaching your child about identity.
For more information on preparing children for a multicultural world, please see the full article:
- Coats and Car Seats: A Lethal Combination?
- Kindergarten Sight Words List
- Child Development Theories
- Signs Your Child Might Have Asperger's Syndrome
- 10 Fun Activities for Children with Autism
- Why is Play Important? Social and Emotional Development, Physical Development, Creative Development
- The Homework Debate
- Social Cognitive Theory
- GED Math Practice Test 1
- First Grade Sight Words List