Resources for the community regarding mental health and conversations with children about racism

 

 

We posted our black squares in solidarity. We marched the streets in solidarity. What’s next?

Don’t stop the conversation.

At Family Centre, we are committed to our mission to strengthen families to create a healthier Bermuda for our children.

That’s why we are sharing these conversation tips for parents, starting this week.

1. Start the conversation.

Open the conversation early. Your kids are relying on you for information and, just as importantly, support on the current events.

2. Be prepared to listen.

You may not be their only source of information, so approach conversations with an open mind. Let them know you’re committed to engaging with their opinions.

3. Trust yourself.

As their parent, you are already the expert on your child. Be honest about your own uncertainties and go into any conversation with an open mind.

When topics like racism and injustice come up, parents may think, “My child is too young for this conversation…”

While young children (ages 2-6) may not have enough life experience to understand, having a conversation can help make sense of things that seem senseless. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when having the conversation:

  • Find out what they know.
  • Break down issues to their simplest terms.
    • For example, “Some groups of people still aren’t treated equally or fairly.” or  “A man hurt a woman.”
  • Catch your own biases.
    • We all have them. Avoid describing a person’s ethnicity, sexual identity, weight, financial status, and so on, unless it’s relevant to the issue.
  • Use basic terms for feelings such as “mad,” “sad,” “afraid,” and “happy,”
    • Young children understand emotions, but they don’t totally understand mental illness.

 

Maybe your child is older, and you’re thinking, “My child already has an idea about it…”

Children between the ages of 7-12 tend to be more exposed to content and information more often – as they are interacting with peers and social media more readily. It is vital for children to be able to discuss topics without feeling judgement, shame or embarrassment.

  • Find out what they know.
  • Create a safe place for discussion.
    • For example, “These topics are hard to discuss — even for adults. Let’s just talk. I won’t be mad, and I want you to feel free to ask anything you want.”
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  • Be sensitive to their emotions.
    • Check in by sharing how you feel and ask them how they feel. Say, “I feel angry when I know that someone got hurt, what are you feeling right now?”
  • Encourage critical thinking.
    • Ask open-ended questions to get kids to think more deeply about serious topics. Ask, “What did you hear?,” “What did it make you think?,” For older kids, you can ask, “Do you think families from other backgrounds would view this the same way as us?” And, “The news media hypes up stories so more people will pay attention. Why do you think this story is getting so much play?”

 

My Child is a teen and we struggle to have conversations….

Teens are engaged in social media independently – and they do tend to be more interested in what their friends think about an issue. They also hear about difficult subjects in the news or from other social media platforms. As parents it is still important to have these conversations.

  • Encourage open conversation.
    • Teens need to know that they can ask questions, test their opinions, and speak freely without fear of consequences. Say, “We may not agree on everything, but I’m interested in what you have to say.”
  • Encourage critical thinking.
    • You can ask them , “What do you think about police brutality?,” “What do you know about it?,” “Who do you think is at fault?,” and “Why do you think that?”
  • Share your values.
    • Ask what they would do if they were in a difficult situation.  Asking them to consider how they would act if confronted with a terrible reality is a way to get them to think about ethical dilemmas and see themselves making good choices. For example, ask “If you were caught in a political demonstration that turned violent and you saw people being mistreated, what would you do?”
  • Get them to consider solutions.
  • If anything is going to get better, it’s this generation who’s going to do it.

 

For more tips, visit https://www.commonsensemedia.org/blog/how-to-talk-to-kids-about-difficult-subjects

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