Hot Topics     Home and Family     K-12     Enrichment Guide    

Talking racism, sexism and politics with your kids



Some upsetting topics are more unavoidable than ever

Talking racism, sexism and politics with your kids


Any parent of a child past toddler stage has learned that kids understand much more than people usually think they do. 

Children start by picking up on moods and vibes, then they begin to decipher words, and then they see cruelty, racism, and sexism, both in everyday life, or, more recently, on the television. Usually years before you have ‘An Important Talk’ – about say, death, or sex, or racism and sexism – you enjoy a little procrastination time, wherein maybe you rehearse what you’ll say.

But things have sped up, and racism and sexism, which were already prevalent in modern media before this election year, are quite literally constantly on the screen. 

So if you thought you could keep putting off this particular awkward discussion, maybe think again. Popsugar has assembled a crack team of mental health pros to help all of us through it.

Make sure in your conversations that you respond not only to the issues, but to the emotions they bring up. For example, if you are talking about how girls or women are sometimes subject to slurs never aimed at boys or men, you might want to first acknowledge the feelings this brings up.

READ MORE: 5 tips on mindfully talking to kids about a non-mindful election

Remember that kids are always watching. And while talking is good, and necessary, how we act in the face of sexism and racism is even more important.

Abigail Gewirtz, Ph.D.
a child psychologist and mother of four

"Parents need to do their own self-reflection about their biases and look around at their own behavior," Review the book Race Talk by Derald Wing Sue a great resource, a fine guide. More books here.

Also, children should feel free to ask questions, even, or maybe especially, awkward ones. "Don't reprimand [children] for noticing racial differences and pointing them out. If you don't allow them to talk, then they aren't able to work through processing their thoughts."

Anandhi Narasimhan, M.D.
board-certified child, adolescent, and adult psychiatrist

Establish that people may in fact look different, but we're actually all the same. This first step teaches them how to treat people fairly and what that looks like.

When a child watches an election play out on television and in a household, they begin to understand power and strength.

"When you look at our leaders, you want things to be well-rounded," Dr. Shivani Chopra says. "So if you associate that with being a man or you associate that with being white, those are going to naturally conform to your stereotypes."

Children need the knowledge that anything is possible. The white man speaking angrily or dismissive of a woman or a person of color is not the only person in power. 

“If you start teaching kids from a young age that anything is possible and leaders can come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, colors, you completely change the dynamic of how they view politics and how they view leadership.” 

Dr. Shivani Chopra
a psychiatrist


Other articles by HVP News Reporters


  • Guilt-free, superfruit snacking

    Sweet treats made to permissibly indulge

    For many, enjoying a small indulgence can serve as a reward for a job well done or a mood-boosting pick-me-up. In fact, mindful snacking is on-trend for a majority of consumers. read more »
  • Getting healthier starts wth your feet

    Start your wellness goals from the ground up

    Good foot and ankle health is critical for good overall health, so no matter what your wellness goals are, be sure to start from the ground up. read more »
  • Dangerous heart conditions often go undetected in pregnant and postpartum women

    A torn ACL revealed an undiagnosed heart defect

    National Jewish Health experts advocate for screenings to detect heart conditions that may develop in otherwise healthy women read more »
  • Bald Eagle viewing in winter

    Watching them can offer an exhilarating and memorable experience

    Winter is a great time to view bald eagles in New York State. Viewing from a safe distance and at established observation sites can offer an exhilarating and memorable experience. read more »
  • Yes, you can raise healthy, smart, kind kids in a screen-saturated world

    "The Mediatrician" helps guide parents on Safer Internet Day

    Raising children in a screen-saturated world elicits fear, hope, and questions from parents, educators, and healthcare providers. The best thing to happen this year on “Safer Internet Day,” is the launch of “The Mediatrician's Guide”, developed to deliver those critical answers. read more »
  • Looking for a new career?

    Become a financial planner

    Becoming a financial planner offers both financial rewards and the chance to help others. Whether you’re a recent graduate exploring your career path or a mid-career professional seeking change, this growing profession may be the right fit for you. read more »
  • How to prep the night before the SAT or ACT exam

    Calm your nerves and enter the testing site with confidence

    Taking the SAT or ACT exam is the culmination of months of test-specific preparation, and in truth, years of schooling. While knowing that can feel like a lot of pressure, there are steps you can take the night before the exam to calm your nerves and enter the testing site with confidence: read more »
  • 7 Valentine's Day date ideas to break from the norm

    Think outside the box this year

    If you’re feeling pressure to plan the perfect Valentine’s Day date, it may be time to veer away from tradition. While flowers, chocolates and dinner for two is a classic, thinking outside the box can make for just as romantic of an experience. read more »
  • Helping infants, toddlers and families thrive

    The child tax credit is a critical policy vehicle

    A bipartisan package that recently passed in the U.S. House of Representatives, would expand the child tax credit (CTC). As the Senate decides whether to follow suit, advocates press that the CTC is a critical policy vehicle to help all infants, toddlers and their families thrive, and it should be implemented as soon as possible. read more »
  • What to look for when you need a law firm

    Savvy advice from Best Lawyers

    Let’s face it, no person or business gets a thrill out of hiring a law firm. Fortunately, peer-reviewed rankings have simplified the process. read more »