Racism, to this day, is still a huge issue – one that’s constantly at the forefront of our minds. Although it’s been over a year since it happened, none of us are yet to escape the global impact of the killing of George Floyd. It’s one that shook the world, and we need to remember the shock, we need to continue raising awareness and support for the Say No to Racism and Black Lives Matter movement.
Now, more than ever, is the right time to grasp this opportunity and consider how we, those who hold influential power over the minds of young people, can help in making a huge difference in the world. It’s essential that we think about how we talk to young people about race and racism. It’s essential to ensure that all lives are viewed as equal, regardless of the colour of somebody’s skin.
For many people out there, the discussion we’re having right now isn’t something new. It’s been a part of their life since birth, boasting ethnic family history and diversity. However, it’s important to keep in mind the values and life experiences learned along the way, as this will play a big role in encouraging and promoting awareness, development, and integration with a society that boasts multi-cultures.
Talking to Children About Racism
We know, the thought of bringing up topics such as the ‘’say no to racism’’ and ‘’black lives matter’’ movement can often feel quite daunting -especially if you have never had to deal with it in the first place.
What is the right thing to say? Will your foster child even understand what you’re talking about? Just like various matters, it’s important that we get the message across in the right way, so we do not leave our child uneducated on real-world matters. You want to facilitate positive learning environments both in your home and community, as this is where life lessons aid in a foster child’s development to adulthood.
Unfortunately, similar to many aspects of being a parent -whether foster or legitimate- there isn’t a book that has all of the answers. There is no right or wrong way to discuss life issues with those under your care. At the end of the day, you know your children more than anybody else -and every single family out there is different.
One of the most important things to keep in mind is that you should never ignore or avoid bringing up the topic of racism with children. It’s a massive issue -one that impacts both children and adults throughout stages of their life. It’s essential that racism is acknowledged, and that there is a comfortable environment to talk about everything openly.
So, What’s the Best Way to Talk to Children About Racism?
Lead By Example
This is first on our list for a reason. Leading by example is the best thing you can do when talking a child through how to say no to racism. It’s great that you’re educating your child on real-life matters, however, it all falls down the drain if they were to see you discriminating against others based on the way they look or their race. This also applies if you maintain silence in the face of racism.
Your foster child will pick up on this behaviour, and may even learn and repeat it in the future. This stands the same if they were to see you react negatively when racism is aimed at you. They will think that this is just part of life, and they have to take it.
They don’t -and it’s important for them to recognize this.
Keep Things Positive
Racism in foster care can be a real problem. It’s important that you always keep a positive regard for how your foster child feels. You must ensure that you show them you understand by recognising exactly where they have been hurt. They may be struggling to comprehend other’s reactions to themselves on the basis of prejudice or racial discrimination.
If this occurs, you should never diminish their feelings. Instead, validate them, acknowledge what they’re telling you, and show true regard. We know that you may not be an expert, but together, you could always work on ways to overcome and address racism in foster care.
This also works vice versa. If your foster child ever shows racist behaviors or uses racist language, do not shout, criticise, or judge. Instead, challenge their comments and find out the source of how they learned them. Your intention should never be to diminish, but to bring them on a journey over time that will continue to develop throughout their adolescence.
It’s now your job to assist them to grow and develop into human beings who value diversity and difference, and become citizens of the future in a multicultural society.
Show Just How Proud You Are
This one’s easy – tell them just how proud you are of them. When they open up and let you into their thoughts, fears, opinions, and views -welcome them in with open arms. Literally, you can give them a hug and tell them that you are super proud of them for expressing themselves.
It’s important to commend a child when you see them saying no to racism. Don’t be afraid to highlight their achievements in supporting and encouraging others around them to become anti-racist. In this situation, everyone benefits from your positive feedback, not least of all your foster child who will note their own sense of self-worth and contribution.
We know that this conversation may seem a bit daunting at first, but we hope that we were able to help you out by providing you with some brief advice on how to talk to children about racism.
Please keep in mind that saying no to racism isn’t just a one-off activity. This always has been, and will continue to be an important matter, and one of the many life lessons your foster child will pass through.
We hope to one day achieve an anti-racist society for our next generation, one that we wish doesn’t have to deal with the terrors of today.