Different Yet So Alike

Different Yet So Alike

Heather W. Cintron, Psy.D.

Barnes & Klatt, P.C.

Children. They are amazing little people. They laugh, they joke, they learn, they love, and they ask questions. Lots and lots of questions. In the world in which we currently live, our children are being exposed to negativity more than ever. They are trying to manage the stress of electronic learning, changes to their health and the health of others, racism, discrimination, prejudice, violence, looting, riots and so much more.

Though big words like “racism,” “discrimination,” and “prejudice” have been repeatedly displayed on television, in music, and in social media, do we truly know the differences among these emotion laden and controversial words? Let’s begin with “racism.” To understand “racism” we also need to understand what constitutes “race.” Per Merriam Webster, race is defined as, “A group of people sharing a common cultural, geographical, linguistic, or religious origin or background.”  Racism is defined as, “A belief that race is a fundamental determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.” Discrimination is defined as, “The act, practice, or an instance of discriminating categorically rather than individually,” with discriminating being defined as, “making a distinction.” Prejudice is defined as, “An irrational attitude of hostility directed against an individual, a group, a race, or their supposed characteristics.”

With so many ways people can interpret and/or experience racism, discrimination, and prejudice where do we, as a society, draw the line for our children and for ourselves? When our children ask questions, they do so to learn and understand. We have to assure our children and provide them comfort. We need to allow them to speak and ask their questions no matter how uncomfortable we become. We need to encourage those questions while being calm and honest if we don’t have an answer. Should a time come when your child stops asking questions, as their parent, it is ok to check-in with them and explore the potential for any additional thoughts and/or feelings. Trust your child will also come to you should more concerns arise.

As the world continues to change and access to violence has increased through television and social media, or if your child has personally witnessed or been involved in a violent act and/or has seen or been involved in a frightening interaction, watch for increased clingy behaviors like crying, whining, or separation anxiety.  Watch for aggressive behaviors, increased frustration, being harder to comfort, or acting out scary events. Be mindful if your child becomes more withdrawn and harder to engage, displays changes in sleep and eating patterns, or engages in behaviors younger than their developmental level.  All of the above are signs your child is struggling to make sense of their world and needs additional support.

As adults, we may be afraid. We are afraid for ourselves and our children and ultimately of the world around us. We become angry at those whom have different beliefs than we do and often project that anger onto others leading to increased irrational thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. People are different. We are groups of people with different cultural, geographical, linguistic, and religious origin backgrounds. Yet within all our different groups, we are alike. We love our children, our amazing little people, and want them to understand and accept each other and our differences. We want our children to understand we are different yet so alike.

The following books can be an introduction to educate your children about differences:

  • Let’s Talk About Race – written by Julius Lester
  • The Name Jar – written by Yangsook Choi
  • This Side of Home – written by Renee Watson
  • Mexican White Boy – written by Matt de la Pena
  • Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match/Marisol McDonald No Combina – written by Monica Brown

These are challenging times for all of us. Do not hesitate to reach out for additional support and guidance. Please contact us at Barnes & Klatt at 847-981-9200 ext. 100 for more information and/or to schedule an appointment.

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