When a child has a communication disorder it may feel like talking about difficult topics, such as racism, with them is too challenging. Some children can and usually do sense when there are big feelings (like anger, shame, confusion, anxiety, fear) being felt by those around them or they may see or be exposed to difficult topics being covered in the news or social media. Your child may also be experiencing big feelings that they may or may not understand or know how to express. Talking about these topics with your children at their level is important and doable.
Right now, Black Lives Matter and antiracism movements are topics that are on the minds of many people. Kids may also be learning about this in class or hearing about it from their peers. As parents, it is important for them to hear it from you and discuss it with you. Here are some ways to support those conversations with kids who have difficulties with communication:
- Model talking about feelings – Use I-statements to describe the feelings that you are experiencing about current events (e.g. “I am feeling angry because Black people are being hurt and mistreated.”).
- Use specific vocabulary – Black, White, Mixed-race/Biracial/Multiracial, racism, antiracism, privilege, ally, protest, oppression and teach kids what it means.
- Sequence events – Using First, Then language to talk about the order of events. E.g., “First a police officer killed a black man that was not fighting back, then protests started happening.” If visuals are helpful for your child, try drawing out the sequence for them to increase their understanding.
- Read books by People of Colour – This can expose your child to wider vocabulary and greater perspectives. It also amplifies voices of People of Colour and allows Children of Colour to feel represented when it is read to them.
- Incorporate toys that show diversity into play – Like the books mentioned previously, this will increase visibility of People of Colour exposing children to greater perspectives.
30 Books to help you talk to your kids about racism
31 Children’s books to support conversations on race, racism, and resistance
Black Lives Matter Instructional Library
We All have Different Shades of Skin Social Story by Autism Little Learners
Racism and Violence: How to help kids handle the news
100 race-conscious things you can say to your child to advance racial justice
TED Salon: Education Everywhere Liz Kleinrock How to teach kids to talk about taboo topics
Systemic Racism Explained by act.tv
Talking to your kids about race and racism in wake of George Floyd by National Geographic
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