It is important to challenge racial bias early, before it becomes a habit. Young children learn about racial differences and racial bias from the adults in their lives. The following strategies are helpful on how to deal with and react to racial differences:
- The mirror is an adult’s best teacher. Self-reflection and self-correction are two of the most humbling tasks for parents and guardians. Become aware of your own bias and model positive ways to help your children respond to individuals who are different than them.
- If childhood queries are not talked out, they are likely to be acted out. Talk to your children about racial differences and the fact that racial bias exists. Use examples of current events of racial bias to initiate a conversation.
- Childhood behavior is either learned or allowed. Be sure to role model prosocial (respectful) behavior with people of different races as a means to teach your children to become anti-racist. Examine both your nonverbal and verbal messages.
- Children love stories, particularly those with good endings. Minimal amounts of self-disclosure of your real life experiences with racial differences and racial bias can be shared whereby you demonstrate the anti-racist behavior you desire to see in your children.
- More is caught than is taught. Children are sensitive to social cues from the adults, peers, media and their surrounding environment. Ensure that your circle of friends and social network are diverse. These interactions will set a healthy precedent for your children to do the same.