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We can't raise kids in a make-believe world: Expert advice on talking to children about racism

The death of George Floyd is sparking conversations in many households across the country, but how do you explain race and racism to your kids? Our expert weighs in.

CLEVELAND — It has been a very emotional week, and parents are now faced with having tough conversations with their children – conversations they’ve probably never had before. 

Maureen Kyle sat down with Dr. Adrianne Fletcher, Assistant Dean for Diversity and Inclusion at Case Western Reserve University’s Mandel School. She has advice on how to discuss racism with your kids.

When kids ask “what’s happening?”, Dr. Fletcher says boil it down with everyday language that you would normally use at the breakfast table.

“I would probably respond by saying, 'Honey, we have people problems. As long as people are alive and in this world, we're going to have trouble,'” says Fletcher “We should be careful to use words that make sense depending on the age of the child.”

Fletcher said she likes to explain to children that it's important to treat people the same way they would like to be treated.

“So if you had to trade places with them on the playground, you would be willing to do it. And children can have that a-ha moment when we frame things that way I even like to post that question to adults.”

Fletcher recommends having a diverse set of books and toys within your household so your children are exposed to a variety of cultures and races.

"What we can't do is raise them in a make-believe world," Fletcher continues. "The reality is that there is a very real problem, and there is a very real problem in the United States and there is a very real global problem."

Watch more of our conversation with Dr. Fletcher in the video below:


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