"One way to make the world a better and more accepting place is to raise racially aware children. But when should you start? What about when your children are very young? Is it possible or advisable to introduce the concept of race to toddlers and pre-schoolers?
The answer is yes, it"s both possible and advisable. And there are many ways to do it. Here are some ideas and tools you can use to raise your racially aware child from a young age.
As with many other aspects of modern child rearing, parents are sometimes nervous about teaching their kids to be racially aware and may tend to avoid the conversation altogether. Just as we point out blue skies and red fire engines, it"s important that we "name what we see". When parents are silent, kids tend to make up their own stories about what"s missing. It"s helpful for kids if parents describe the actual color of a person"s complexion and then explain how those shades are most often categorized by society into "white" and "black".
Lori Taliaferro Riddick and Sachi Feris from the site Raising Race-Conscious Children say, "Parents often ask which words they should use to describe skin tones. We advocate for using both types of words actual skin tones (like "brown" or "peach") is more descriptive and more accurate to what we actually see; but I use the words "white" and "black" even though it is a social construct just to break it down for my children. If I don"t use those words, it"s harder to talk in a larger way about race in our society." That lays the groundwork to talk about race in a more substantial way down the road and helps kids build the vocabulary they need to talk about race and diversity, as an open and healthy topic.
Learn about other cultures and celebrate them with your children. Cook different ethnic foods, try a traditional craft or game, or learn a song from another culture. Also let children know about things that are part of your own cultural heritage. Not everyone celebrates the same holidays, eats the same food, or has the same traditions, but each culture is special in its own way."
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