As always, I wanted to share ways to help our littles navigate through these times, amongst all of the communication and action regarding the Murder of Mr. George Floyd (rest in eternal peace).
Each Wednesday, I plan to share tips/ideas on how to #teachpeace.
It’s SO hard being little. Especially with all of the messages and directives that they receive all around them DAILY regarding: who they are, what religion they are, what to eat, what to wear, when to wake up, when to sleep etc. etc.
It’s even harder and more significant NOW with the STRESS that we all feel from the *community trauma* ALL HUMANS are enduring through the quarantine, mass death, job losses, Murder of Mr. Floyd, other senseless acts of hatred and violence and just the hell in general 2020 has graced us with.
I am not an expert in #antiracism; I have, however, studied the book since last year and that, coupled with my 6 years of education, plus 12 years of clinical experience (combined undergraduate internships + graduate internship/post-graduate residency) have been my guiding forces in this journey toward enlightening myself.
I believe in what I call enlightened parenting; making a conscious choice every day to be the best version of myself I can be. Thus is the basis and inspiration for this post.
I mentioned this in a previous post on Instagram, but I teach my girls through books (bibliotherapy). Some kiddos learn so much through role playing with dolls, or other forms of pretend play as well, and if this resonates with you, then you could read these books and create your own game to play together based off of the ideals presented.
I introduced these books when Hart (now 5) was 1; I simply put them on the shelf and waited for her to show interest. Now, granted, at that age her attention span was not capable of sitting through the entirety of these books (save for ‘Baby Faces’), but it’s similar to training for a marathon, you build a little each time you hit the pavement, and each time we read a little more, until the message was received.
Side note, my favorite clinical supervisor, Ms. Sharon Geibel (genius warrior mama!!) always said that children ONLY have the cognitive and developmental capacity to sit still for 2X their age, so if your little is 2, then 4 minutes is about what you can reasonably expect, given developmental appropriateness/readiness/cognitive capacity.
Research suggests that children start to show racial bias early as 6-9 months, in that they prefer their own race group over another. That is #science and, as such, the first set of books I am recommending are geared toward this NORMAL, innate trait of our humanness.
The second set of books I recommend are for ages 3+, as they represent accurate historical depictions (to the best of my research and knowledge). Hart has always been a curious child, and asks many, many, many questions (How did my poor, sweet, mama cope having a curious child without ALEXA?!?!). I will post those next week.
Honesty has always been my best policy with her, and when she asks a question, I tell her the truth.
Typically, if a child is asking the question, this gives us a clue that they are developmentally ready to know the answer. Now, I am always cognizant of how she is taking the conversation, and if I sense any sadness or anxiety, I check-in before proceeding (we recently had an animal slaughter conversation because they have a working farm at her school. I am a vegan myself and I was honest with her. Her eyes did get wide for a moment, but then she said “I am fine with eating cows, mama. That’s just the circle of life!!). I digress, but you get the point.
Books that address the differences amongst all human beings and how to honor those differences:
‘Baby Faces’ By: DK Publishing
‘Global Babies’ By: The Global Fund for Children
‘The Colors of Us’ By: Karen Katz (has gorgeous illustrations and delicious descriptions of (swipe right to see!!) varying colors of human skin tone. This book is available and read aloud on YouTube!)
‘The Skin You Live In’ By: Michael Tyler (*is available and read aloud on YouTube!)
‘I think, I am’ By: Louise Hay (majority of the book is related to affirmations/cognitive conditioning, but it has some #antiracist underpinnings I liked-swipe right for example. This book is available and read aloud on YouTube!)
I welcome feedback on how to improve this message or would love to hear any of your ideas!!!
PS, We buy all of our books used; and since we can’t go to our local used bookstores just yet, we have been consciously ordering from Amazon. Most of the used book retailers on Amazon are from Goodwill and the like, and you can typically get them approximately $2-3 dollars cheaper while accounting for shipping (you DO have to pay for shipping, but I never mind supporting USPS, and the $2-3 savings DOES account for the $4-5 you pay in shipping costs). This helps the Woelkers Clan save a few bucks and maybe a tree that would have been a new book! I DO wipe the used books down pretty religiously with isopropyl alcohol and a cloth. Sometimes it takes a while (a few days so the pages don’t get stuck) to disinfect, as we are moving on from board books, but it’s worth it to me.
Peace and Love, Mamas!
Love, Your Mama Llama,
*YOU are the expert on your child. These are my guidelines, but your child may be ready for these books before or after the age that I recommended. Every child develops at their own pace, and it’s beautiful. Use your best judgement to discern when would be best for your child*
Center on the Developing Child, Harvard University
Zero to Three