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Tips for talking to your children about race

The topic of race amid national protests is a difficult, but important, conversation to have with your kids

NORFOLK, Va. — Protests across the country speak loudly about the state of race in America. But for our kids, especially the younger ones, that message isn’t always clear.

“It is our responsibility to help them make sense of what they’re seeing and hearing,” said Dr. Kawanna Ward from Providence Psychological Services in Suffolk.

Ward said discussions about race with your child start with exposure. In order for a child to understand race and diversity, they need to see it firsthand. For younger children, that exposure can be found in movies or books.

“One of my favorite children’s books is 'Amazing Grace' by Mary Hoffler,” said Ward. “It invites the reader to imagine Peter Pan as a black girl.”

When it comes to the conversation itself, Ward said it’s less about what you say and more about making the effort. Let questions and curiosity guide the discussion. Ask them questions, and let them ask you questions.

For teens and older kids, music is a great segue.

“Ask, what do you think those lyrics mean?” said Ward. “What do you think it means to casually say the N-word while you’re rapping?”

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