When we see children we hope and aspire that they will be our hope for the future. But problems occur when color is used as means of criteria as to how to treat one another and how to feel towards each other. Feeling superiority over certain races should not be taught or encouraged by our children at all! As a nation we are taking one step forward and many steps back when we talk of race. As parents we end up indirectly fostering racial superiority in our children.
We look to the leaders of our respective countries to eliminate the ripples of racism from our societies but we need to do one better, we need to talk to our children about race, religion, ethnicity and bigotry. If we avoid talking to our children we run the risk of strengthening prejudices that our next generation will carry on with them to following generations to come. Racism provides a comforting explanation for why one’s own life is not all one had hoped for it to be. Feelings of superiority can be bred in children by mistreating them, which stimulates a compensatory desire for greatness.
Children start to notice differences amongst people when they are babies, this was confirmed from research done by psychologists, Phyllis Katz and Jennifer Kofkin, in 1997 for the Institute for Research on Social Problems. From age 2 or 3 we could start talking to our children about race. Talk to your child about the differences in the world and with people of all cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Make it interactive. Try foods from different countries and explore different languages. Read books with pictures of people from varied backgrounds.
When Martin Luther King Day or special holidays i.e. black history month, Spanish heritage month, Chinese New year, Japanese New Year, etc. arrives, talk about the leaders in history with your child or famous people they may be able to relate to that are of varied ethnic backgrounds. Discuss people in history referring to that period in time that were important to us or holidays that may allude to certain cultural phenomena. With activities like the ones mentioned respect and understanding will follow. Make sure to accentuate the positive and the negative as well. This will keep your child in touch with reality and allow them the ability to accept whatever they may experience good or bad.
Make sure to engage in activities with diversity maybe a street fair where they can sample different foods and crafts from different countries. Make friends from all over the globe and let your child see that experiencing these differences is something to be embraced and not shunned according to Cynthia Garcia, a psychology professor at Brown University. Also, trying to send your child to a multicultural school in which all cultures are celebrated would benefit your youngster.
Make sure your child also knows that behaviors of intolerance is unacceptable. If your child does exhibits questionable behavior make sure your child knows that that is also unacceptable. Let your child know that he or she did an intolerable act against a group or an individual of that selective background. Try to dig deep to find out why your child had done or said what they said or did. Let your child know why the gesture is incorrect. Try to stay age appropriate and it is simply not enough to say “don’t do it.” Do make sure your point has come across. This way your child will grow up to appreciate individuals of all races and all backgrounds.