Race, Racism, and Police Violence, Support for Families

Race, Racism, and Police Violence, Support for Families

Parents and caregivers have been challenged in their efforts to support children at home in 2020; first in responding to fears and new realities related to COVID-19, as well as recent events regarding racism and police violence. As parents, caregivers, teachers and therapists, we recognize that these stressors are challenging for everyone involved. These events are stressful and equally challenging for our children, which is why we must remember to support them as we work through these issues as a family.  

I would like to share some ideas to help process these events with the children you love and care for. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but has been compiled by our team as a starting point from a multitude of experts. We sincerely hope you find these resources useful in your efforts to support your children and family during these times.

Talk with your child, perhaps by exploring a theme.
Talking with your child is the most important thing you can do. Be open to their questions, providing answers that are appropriate to their level of development and understanding. Today’s issues are very complex and have many layers. It may be helpful to pick a theme to explore such as:

  • Activism or advocacy
  • Self-love and empowerment
  • Black history and the Black experience
  • White privilege
  • Microaggression

Choose a story to start the difficult conversation.
Kids may find it easier to process challenging topics through books. You can search for books based on the themes suggested above as a start. Picture books can be helpful, regardless of age, as a less intimidating way to start. It is recommended that you read the book ahead of time to determine the appropriateness for your child. This is also a good way for you to be able to anticipate questions your child may have as you read it together. Some suggestions are:

  • Something Happened in Our Town by Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins and Ann Hazzard
  • Lila and the Crow by Gabrielle Grimard
  • Princess and the Pony by Kate Beaton
  • Cook It by Georgie Birkett
  • Spork by Kyo Maclear
  • Maddi’s Fridge by Lois Brandt
  • A Bike Like Sergio’s by Maribeth Boelts

Try using a social story.
Social stories can be useful for children who have challenges with social situations or coping with change. A social story is a tool that is also used with the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) to help individuals with developmental disabilities understand the world around them. This Facebook link shares a social story about George Floyd. It was created by a pre-K teacher of Early Childhood- St. Paul ECFE.

Watch for behaviors that may indicate your child is struggling and may need more support:

  • Fear of separating from you
  • Increased crying
  • Increased aggression or frustration
  • Difficulty or changes in sleeping or eating habits
  • Toileting accidents
  • Nightmares

Explore resources for answering questions.
Experts say it’s okay if you don’t know the answer to your child’s questions. Complex issues are hard for everyone and it can build your child’s trust in you if you are open with them about not always knowing the answer. Let them know you will try to find answers and help for them and that you can maintain an open dialogue. 

Additional Resources for Parents and Caregivers

By Kari J. Tanta, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, Manager, Children’s Therapy at Valley Medical Center

About The Author

Valley Medical Center's Marketing and Community Outreach Office

1 Comment

  1. Anita Reed, RN

    Thankyou for commenting on the public issues and for this very wonderful list of helpful ideas!!!

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