How to talk to kids about racism: West Vancouver counsellor's advice
Published Tuesday, June 9, 2020 4:44PM PDT Last Updated Tuesday, June 9, 2020 6:41PM PDT
VANCOUVER -- A family counsellor in West Vancouver is providing tips for parents on how to spark a meaningful conversation with their children regarding the Black Lives Matter movement.
Alyson Jones said it's important to have a discussion with kids about what they're seeing in their communities and across North America, after weeks of protests calling for an end to racial injustice and police brutality following George Floyd's death.
That's especially true, Jones said, given the graphic video that has circulated online showing a police officer kneeling on Floyd's neck.
"Children of all ages have been exposed to this and many children have seen the video itself," Jones told CTV Morning Live Tuesday. "It's traumatic for all of us. But for a very young child seeing it, it's even more disturbing and confusing."
Jones said parents should start the conversation by asking their kids what they know about the situation and go from there. She also suggests approaching the conversation in a calm manner and to be honest in an age appropriate way.
When it comes to children in preschool, Jones said parents don't have to divulge too many details. Instead she suggests exposing them to books and other learning materials that celebrate diversity.
If young children ask about why racism exists, Jones suggests giving them an honest response.
"Some people are uncomfortable with people's differences and in this family we celebrate differences," she said.
Jones said it's all about approach and school-age children will likely have a lot more specific questions to ask.
"Help them understand why people are angry," said Jones. "It's OK to say we're angry because there's things we should be angry about."
She also adds that teenagers will be the most impacted by the conversation and parents should be real about their feelings but not let their own anxiety get in the way of teaching and guiding their children.
"With teens it is so important that the conversation be about what they can do, not what you don't want them to do," said Jones. "We want to inspire their energy and their desire for change."