How to Talk to your Children About Racism

Racism is an incredibly difficult topic not just to understand, but also to explain especially for young children. This is why Arms Wide has created a list of resources that help you approach or continue to discuss the topic of Racism to your children. 

Beginning the Conversation 

This Smithsonian resource is amazing for self-reflecting on your own experiences with racism and how you understood it as you grew up, as well as inspiring dialogue with your children. It also teaches on how to approach this topic from the point of view of an educator. 

Embrace Race has amazing webinars and resources designed to help parents raise a generation of children who are thoughtful, informed, and brave about race.

This Fostering Families article addresses white parents who foster or have adopted children of  color, and ensuring they also learn to talk about history, race, and address their own privilege compared to the lack thereof of their children. 

 Child Mind Institutes illustrates the importance of talking about race and warns against avoiding the topic. They give some helpful tips that can help you keep a steady mind in explaining a difficult and painful topic to your children. 

Age – Specific Resources

Young children are sort of like sponges. They absorb the mannerisms of the adults and others around them. However, they are also able to pick up on societal attitudes and prejudices about different ethnicities and races. This article helps parents wipe out prejudices in children, and help them uplift their peers. 

We suggest reading this Unicef article, because it gives tips on how to talk about racism to your children dependent on how old they are: from Pre-Kindergarten to High School. 

Zero to Three offers guidelines to remember when introducing the topic of racism for children who are Two to Five years old. It also gives ideas on how to answer the difficult questions your child or children may ask. 

PBS emphasizes the importance of honesty. Therefore, they recommend talking about these sorts of topics as honestly as possible, while still being appropriate to young children. This helps children find confidence within themselves and be allies to their peers. 

This resource by Austin Child Guidance Center has a list of articles, books, and videos that you can read and watch to better understand how to talk about racism with your children. Furthermore, it lists books and videos for your child, based on how old they are! The New York Times also has a list of books appropriate for children that can help them understand protests and racism better. To find more helpful books and movies, we recommend you check out our Helpful Books & Media Blog! The resources listed above are included there, along with plenty of more that help children embrace diversity. 

Navigating Current Events 

Healthy Children emphasizes that children are always listening and may need help processing current eventsThey listen in on your conversations, listen to their peers, and may come across YouTube videos that rouses many complicated questions about why racism happens 

This USA Today article helps parents answer the question:  What Do We Tell Our Children? It helps encourage parents to answer difficult questions and begin conversations about painful topics. Moreover, it warns against silence in these moments, since children may misinterpret it and draw their own faulty conclusions. 

CNN Health shows how parents can talk about the protests and racism with their children. It also explores “The Talk” often given to children and teenagers in Black families, and how white parents can also have the talk too – to build empathy and confidence within their children. 

Arms Wide believes that all children deserve loving, nurturing permanent families and knows that racial disparity and disproportionality exist in the child welfare system. Learn more about what Arms Wide is doing to address these issues through our It Takes a Village initiativeFor more resources for foster care, adoption, or post permanency support process, you can visit our Resources Page.