In a recent news release the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) addresses the current movement that is happening to challenge injustices and discrimination faced by the Black community. In the statement, AAP President Sally Goza, MD, FAAP says there is “a growing body of research,” on the notion that racism is harmful to children’s health and, “…we cannot ignore the impact.” Children are receptive of their environment and may hear and see things that they don’t fully understand. They may have questions about the images and videos that are circulating and as a parent you want to be equipped to have a meaningful and informative conversation with your child, taking into consideration their age and what they can process.
Dr. Heard-Garris and Jacqueline Dougé, MD, MPH, FAAP have multiple recommendations on how parents can engage their child, especially during this pivotal time. They recommend checking in with your child about what they have seen or heard and validating their feelings. Watching for changes in their behavior is another way to support them during this time, particularly if they seem anxious, aggressive, or withdrawn. If you’re concerned, you can reach out to your pediatrician or a mental health provider. Place limits and supervise exposure to media – this is an important way to filter the amount and types of news your child is viewing. Check in with your own emotions and ask for support if you need it. Keep in mind there is no perfect way to have these conversations. There are resources available to provide guidance on how to find the “right” words to share with your child, including this article by HealthyChildren.org. To read the full AAP statement, click here.
At VIP our hearts are with the Black community now and always. We stand for racial justice, equality and better childhood outcomes for future generations. We encourage parents to have these important conversations with their children, as they are never too young to learn about race. Books are a great place to start the dialogue and education about race with little ones. The future of our children starts at home.