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How to educate children on race, police and protests in America

Posted at 2:11 PM, Jun 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-04 14:11:33-04

HAMPTON ROADS, Va.— Difficult conversations are happening in the Ellis house and in households around the country.

Nicole Ellis and her husband are trying to educate their 5-year-old daughter Nadia and 10-year-old son Jayden about race, protests and police as the uprising in demonstrations continue in Hampton Roads and across this country for the second week.

“We have to use words on their level, you know, 'There are some bad people. There are some people who aren't nice. There are some people who don't like you because of the color of your skin,'" said Ellis when describing what that conversations with her black children sound like.

Ernestine Duncan, a professor of psychology at Norfolk State University, says it’s important for parents to have age appropriate conversation with their children. She encourages adults to talk “honestly, but objectively about the state of race relations” in the world today.

“You know your child. Have goals for what you would want them to know and how you would want them to respond, and tailor what you do to your child,” said Duncan.

Duncan says parents should limit what access kids have to violent images; instead, encourage them to draw or talk about how they are feeling.

“We may say, ‘How was your day today? What kinds of things specifically happened today? How do you feel about yourself given today?'"

Duncan says parents should utilize resources like books and video— things Ellis says have been helpful. At the end of the day, she says she try to instill in her children the importance of understanding and respecting differences.

“Reminding our kids: Don't live in fear,” said Ellis. “We don't need to be walking around walking on eggshells. You know, be mindful, but not afraid. Be aware, but not intimidated.”