The death of George Floyd in May of last year led to months of protest over systemic racism in the United States. For many parents, race, class, and social identity are tough topics to address with young kids. Ivanhoe has more on ways parents can and researchers say should get the conversation started.
Rory Breaker and his little brother Auggie live in a multicultural neighborhood in New York City. When you ask about his family, Rory says he acts most like his mom, Kate, a theater director.
“We like to do a lot of the same things,” said Rory.
But looks more like his dad, Daniel, a Broadway actor.
“I think we have the same nose,” Rory continued.
Diversity is part of the fabric of Rory’s family. His parents talk about it. But is that the exception rather than the rule? Tanya Haider is the Executive Vice President of Strategy for Sesame Workshop. Sesame and NORC at the University of Chicago conducted a nationwide survey of more than 6,000 parents and found 68 percent of the respondents felt race has some impact on a child’s ability to succeed. But 60 percent rarely discuss race or ethnicity or social class, even though kids notice differences at a very early age.
“On the playground, ‘Hey mom, why is that person’s skin color different than mine? Why is that lady wearing something on her head?’ We tend to shush them up. We get embarrassed or think we’re gonna offend someone,” explained Haider.
The research suggests parents should look for events and opportunities to celebrate your child’s heritage, color, religious beliefs, and family makeup and look for opportunities to discuss and embrace differences.
“It could be a moment in the supermarket. It could be a moment on the playground,” continued Haider.
Moments that will help your child learn more about themselves and the diverse world around them.
The study builds on previous research that finds a positive social identity and acceptance is associated with greater self-esteem and tolerance, and also better outcomes in the teen years and adulthood.