How to Talk About Today’s Protests With Foster Children

How to Talk About Today’s Protests With Foster Children

How to talk about worldwide protest with children

George Floyd and how to talk to a child who needs answers

Nationwide protests over the death of George Floyd have dominated our cities and the world over. Leaving many concerned parents struggling between explaining the harsh realities of racism to their children and shielding them from the realities of the violence their witnessing. With news and social media cycles flooded by videos, callouts, and stories about the unrest, the conversation is challenging to address and difficult to avoid. 

According to child psychologist Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum, it's important, to begin by discussing the unfairness of racism in our society and why it's important to work together to make it different. While giving a reason for the protests may be complex, parents may consider not talking about "the what," but focusing on "the why." Deal with, if at all possible, the source of the protest. She recommends that parents should share why they are upset about what has happened. 

One may wonder, where does racism originate. Research suggests that: 

✔ Racial biases may arise in babies as young as six to nine months old
✔ Babies as young as six months are more inclined to learn from adults of their race rather than from other races
✔ Race-based bias emerges without experience with other-race individuals

With all this being said, what can parents use as teachable moments? When helping their older children process through these horrifying protest videos, they are watching day and night.

✔ Being activists in this generation is very important.
✔ When young people are allowed to advocate for themselves, they develop skills that are most often gained through experiential  learning.
✔ Self-awareness and self-reflection are cultivated and developed.
✔ Becoming knowledgeable about the barriers that prohibit change.
✔ Building a network with those with the same passions.

The question is: Is there a danger in staying silent? 

Tatum said parents who won't have that conversation are in danger of leaving their children with "confusion and anxieties they don't know how to process." Her feeling is that it is important for parents to model inclusivity and anti-racism if that is their goal.

We all know that children of all ages will ask questions. Hence, their questions need to be answered in an age-appropriate way that gives them a better understanding of what is going on around them.

In conclusion, when you're ready, the experts say, let the child's age and level of development guide you. However, be sure that you are in the right frame of mind.

According to Chicago pediatrician Dr. Nia Heard-Garris , "A parent's first step is to take care of themselves, their mental health, their emotional health. Put their oxygen mask on first before they put the oxygen mask on their child." Once a parent is fully available to be a calm, rational voice, "then you can parse out what's important to pass onto your child so that you're not over-sharing information that may further traumatize them or make them feel insecure or unsafe," Heard-Garris said.

Source: University of Toronto

Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum

Sandee LaMotte, CNN

The world looks on George Floyd Liverpool FC

Fill out our web form