With so much focus lately on racial injustice, how can I help my kids be part of the solution? How can I put them in position to build a better future?
Dianne is a longtime advocate and educator of young children. She is president and CEO of The Family Partnership, which is dedicated to building strong families, vital communities, and better futures for Twin Cities kids. She is also the host of Early Risers, a podcast designed to help parents and young children talk about race and racism.
Dianne Haulcy: Young kids are learning everything through what they’re seeing–or not seeing. They’re absorbing our behaviors in their minds and in their bodies. So it’s a good practice to model good behaviors. Model peaceful interactions. Model conflict resolution. As adults, especially in our polarized times, we’re not always very good at resolving conflict in our own lives. But we don’t want that for our kids. So when you can practice it and model it consciously, you’re giving your kids a step up. We’re not always going to agree or share the same perspective with others, but we can model what it looks like to show kindness and an open mind.
When you’re out, help children to be play initiators. Kids are generally going to gravitate toward the people with whom they feel most comfortable–that’s a safety measure. If a child has not spent time with a child of a different race or background, they may not gravitate toward them, they may be afraid. When parents see that happening, help them initiate play. Go the extra mile. Ask that child, “Do you want to play? Do you want to go to the swing with us? Or dig in the sand?” As children are brought in, they’ll feel more comfortable the next time around. Teach children through your own behaviors that people who are different are not necessarily people to avoid or fear.
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