Starting the conversation: How to talk to your kids about racism and protests

Digital Now

COLORADO SPRINGS — Conversations on racism and nationwide protests can be difficult to have with kids, but Children’s Hospital Colorado says it’s one that can’t go unsaid. 

“Children as young as two years of age will start noticing differences and can develop their own biases. And so, it’s really important to know that kids see things that are happening, and it impacts them, and they’re trying to make sense of their world,” said Jenna Glover, PhD, MS, BS, Director of Psychology Training, at Children’s Hospital Colorado. 

Glover says parents should ask their children direct and specific questions, such as, how do they feel about what’s going on? Do they have any fears? And for older children, what inspires them about the current situation or what is upsetting. 

“Really, facilitating a conversation so kids can come to their own conclusions. And you can understand where they’re at to best support them,” Glover said. 

Glover says it’s also important to limit what your children are exposed to. 

“It’s not enough to just have your kids in the background playing and you’re watching the news. You have to take those media breaks as well, and be thoughtful about when you’re consuming media or your children are around. For older kids, it is very hard to limit that because they’re carrying it around with them,” Glover said. 

This includes graphic content related to the protests. 

“I think not having those conversations leaves kids that they have to sit with very disturbing images and if they’re not able to talk about It them, that can have bad pshycological outcomes for kids,” Glover said. 

According to Glover, there are four signs your child might be neagatively impacted by current events:   

  1. Changes in sleep habits: From sleeping more or significantly less. This also includes changes in their eating habits. 
  2. Acting out: Whether they’re yelling or screaming more and breaking things when it’s not their typical behavior. 
  3. More irritable: A bigger sign in teens. 
  4. Withdrawing socially: They suddenly don’t engage with friends or family. 

 “If something happens once, notice it. If something happens twice, become really curious about it. And if you see your kids ring different for a three to five day period and it seems to start interfering with their relationships, or their ability to function at school, or do other things, that becomes concerning and indicative of maybe a larger mental health problem,” Glover said. 

Click here for more resources on talking to children about racism and national protests. 

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