How to talk to your children about race and racism in America

Psychiatrist Dr. Janet Taylor discusses how to best explain the current atmosphere of the protest and racism to kids.
4:59 | 06/03/20

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Transcript for How to talk to your children about race and racism in America
@drjashton. With everything that's going with the covid crisis, our kids are having to deal with so much and now the nation is facing yet another crisis -- this one on race. And we're now of course in the second week of these protests that are sparked by the tragic death of George Floyd who died in the hands of police in Minneapolis. And as the nation unrest continued, parents like us are having to have really tough conversations with our children about racism. Here to help us is psychiatrist Dr. Taylor, thank you so much for coming back. How do you explain to your kids about the current atmosphere, what they're seeing, what they're hearing, the protests and racism. Well, you can say to your kids, listen, you know how you feel when you ask me to do something and I say no, you say why? Because I said so. All these protesters are saying, that's not good enough because I say so isn't good enough. They've taken to the streets, they use their mouths in a thoughtful and for the most part a very orderly way saying, we disagree and that's a natural part of life and we can teach our kids to think and how to disrupt when they're feeling something that they don't agree with and so it's a really opportune teaching moment. And Janet, you always say that these tough conversations have to be age-appropriate, how do you recommend that we talk to our children about the police in general? Well, we don't want our children to be afraid of the police and we just say, how sometimes there are people who may have the right intention but they do bad things. Most of the police are good people. You can go to them for help. Most of us still do. But there are some police officers who have made bad choices. We want children to see the police as a safe entity, as a safe structure. Because they do help us. Jen just mentioned age-appropriateness, what's the youngest age you should start talking with your child about these difficult topics? Well, as important as it is to talk about difficult topics, like racism, which we know has existed for a long time, you know, when kids are 3 or 4, as a child of color they will experience incidents, whether it's a classmate that says something, a teacher, whether we know or not as parents it's so what we can do is expose our children of all colors to books that have characters that are black. Listen to their conversations and when your child says that something has happened to them because of the color of their skin or their hair texture, we need to listen. Showing them in a calm, thoughtful way about how to handle an insult or a slight and to other adults to make sure it doesn't happen again. We can no longer the ignore the pain that racism causes to our children. And is there ever a situation where you would recommend actually shielding your child from racism as a topic? I would never recommend that you shield your child from racism as a topic. The conversation about racism, it's about anti-racism. What does that mean? We teach our kids not that we're all alike we can have the same values, our differences can suggest beauty, so when there's an incident that is unfair, when there's an incident somebody tries to use their power as destructive we can use it as a teachable moments. In terms of those teachable moments, how can parents explain in the best way to their children about their race and other races? Well, one way is to stop using the word race which we know is a social construct. It's a meaningless term. Talk about people in terms of their ancestry, their culture. Their history, how they see themselves in terms of their ethnic origin. Janet, I mean mental health professionals like yourself are in short supply as it is, you always give us such good advice, what resources would you recommend to help us start this conversation about race? I just came across a great organization, embracerace.org that has wonderful points for parents with their kids and also buy books that have different characters. You know, a snowy day, that was written in 1962, it's the number one book taken out of the new York public library, and it shows a young black man Peter who's going out into the white snow, use books like that and see how your kids react. But show them, have them experience different cultures and different races. Books are great way to do that. They certainly are. Your words of wisdom have been so helpful, Dr. Janet Taylor, we certainly appreciate you. Thank you for your time and your expertise. Thank you.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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