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Raising Children Free of Prejudice

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Coping with Prejudice

When children are hurt by racial or ethnic cruelty, though, it's harder to restrain an immediate emotional response. It's important, however, to try to comfort and explain instead of reacting angrily. If your child is called an ugly name, for instance, it's a great temptation to fly into a blind rage. But what your child needs from you is reassurance that she is a good person and that people who call her such names are not nice people. At the same time, she needs to know that all people of that particular group don't act this way, and that there are good and bad people of all ethnic groups and races.

Children need encouragement to be assertive in these situations, at least saying to the name-caller, "I don't like you calling me bad names and I want you to stop." And it's important to stress that talking out a problem is always the thing to try first. If a situation gets out of hand, a parent may need to intervene -- and your child needs to know that you are ready to back her up -- but children should be encouraged to initially try to handle these difficulties themselves. Then, if a similar incident occurs again, they will be better able to deal with it. Whatever the problem, however, parents of color need to ensure that their children develop coping mechanisms that don't compromise their children's dignity.

Next: Parenting in White Families

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