I love and enjoy what I do, I teach parents how to have difficult conversations with their children. Teaching them on how to keep the line of communication free and clear. However, in recent events I find myself having to teach parents to deal with racism or better yet how to respond to it.
How Do You Do That?
To deal effectively with racism, you must teach your child compassion for others, in order to prevent it from ever happening. In an article “How Parents Can Cultivate Empathy in Children” by Richard Weissbourd and Stephanie Jone. Making Caring Common Project, Harvard Graduate School of Education.
They List Five Things That You Can Do to Teach Empathy:
1. Empathize with your child and model empathy for others
2. Make caring for others a priority and set high ethical expectations
3. Provide opportunities for children to practice empathy
4. Expand your child’s circle of concern
5. Help children develop self-control and manage feelings effectively
I have my master’s in Mental Health Counseling, which teaches you how to deal with people that have different mental health capabilities and to help them. I have a specialty in Applied Behavior Analysis, which gives me an understanding as to how people behave and why. However, empathy and compassion I was taught at home, not in academics.
I use my education to help me with the fundamental teaching that I received from my parents. I have all this academic training in mental health and human behavior but ultimately it was my parents who taught me how to accept others, even though they may not accept me.
As a parent, the action steps that are needed to cultivate a positive relationship with people that are different IS work. Parenting is not an easy task. It takes daily effort and constant reevaluation. In a world that is constantly changing and when negative information is at a child’s fingertip, you are your child’s source of influence and you are at the front line on making a change.
I now face what seems to be a monthly occurrence of teaching parents to talk to their children about racism. A big conversation and one that I do not take lightly. From a behavior perspective children do as you do, if you want to be effective and teach empathy you must also demonstrate it through not just your words but your actions as well.