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To think that my 3 year old can't be a racist?

(265 Posts)
DroppingIn Wed 18-Jun-14 00:05:58

Nursery pulled me over when I picked up DS yesterday to tell me that DS did not want to share with another boy apparently and when he was asked why said he said it was because the other boy was 'black'.

We talked about it on the way home and about people looking different colours and how we are all the same. It is not something that has ever come up before although there are quite a few black DC/Asian in his nursery.

I was not going to tell him off for saying the other DC was black as he is. I also was not going to tell him off for not sharing in this particular instance as DS is normally very good at sharing but I have seen several instances where other DC have snatched stuff off him and it being dressed up as 'sharing' which gets on my tits tbh.

I am concerned now that the nursery is going to have him down as a mini racist and of course, the parents of the other boy being told about it and thinking there may be more to it than there is.

What to do?

softlysoftly Wed 18-Jun-14 00:15:50

Don't make a big deal out of it, do as yo have done and talk to him about everyone being the same just looking different. Equate skin colour with eye/hair colour, height etc to make it normal.

DD1 (4) went through a face of stating that she doesn't like brown faces. Bit of an issue as her dad's brown so she's olive hmm Eventually through gentle probing but brushing it off as silly at the same time we discovered its because she wants to be pink like Peppa Pig grin

softlysoftly Wed 18-Jun-14 00:16:17


AuditAngel Wed 18-Jun-14 00:17:48

I was mildly concerned when DD1 described her friend as brown Emily (as opposed to pink Emily) but it was just descriptive, not critical.

thecageisfull Wed 18-Jun-14 00:31:46

this book has a really good chapter about racism and why it is important to talk to children (particularly white children) about race and racism. It's something that white parents tend to leave about a decade later than ME parents.

I hate the 'we are all the same' narrative. Saying 'I don't see colour' is saying 'I don't see you as you are, I see you as I want to see you'.

HerrenaHarridan Wed 18-Jun-14 00:33:20

Yes a 3yo can be racist.

A) if their parents are bringing them up to be or
B) if they have not associated with people outside of their own race before.

When I was in Africa I had small children run away from me because I was different looking (ie white)

At this age children are quite conservative and lean heavily on things that are familiar.

Saying that at this age they often come out with seemingly random things.

I don't think you need to worry ime children will only become genuinely racist if they are learning that at home

Fideliney Wed 18-Jun-14 00:34:08

He's 3.

trufflesnout Wed 18-Jun-14 00:35:11

It doesn't sound like you have reiterated to your DS that it was bad not to share with another little boy because he was black. I'm hoping you did, but worried by the "not going to tell him off for not sharing in this instance" line. 3 or not, he's instigated this so it's a good time to start saying "that's not ok".

Fideliney Wed 18-Jun-14 00:41:01

truffle I really don't think weshould be taking some random in-the-moment 'reason' given by a 3 year old under questioning so seriously.

3 year olds don't share because they don't chuffing well like sharing FFS.

What did they think he was going to offer as a philosophical rationale?

Fideliney Wed 18-Jun-14 00:42:18

He probably just stared at the other kid at a loss and named the first thing about the child that jumped out at him.

Debbylou Wed 18-Jun-14 00:44:28

Hi recently my 2.5 yr old ds pointed at local shop keeper and very clearly declared "Asian" , I wanted the ground to swollow me but shop keeper just smiled and said its ok to say because she is Asian and he was just describing her ancestry, still didn't make me feel better as I have no idea how he knew, doesn't go to nursery but is very clued in child can only assume he saw an ad on tv or something, and very thankful he didn't use the P word instead which he has heard out on the street , children notice differences and aren't always diplomatic in voicing them but that in no way makes a toddler a racist

ComposHat Wed 18-Jun-14 00:50:50

It seems he understands the boy is different to him and this unsettles him, but doesn't understand concepts of 'race' and the cultural and political dimensions of racism.

trufflesnout Wed 18-Jun-14 00:51:29

Yes, he probably did. And I'm not saying the kid is racist, and no not all children like sharing - but it might be a good moment just to gently say "I know you don't like sharing, but it's not okay to not play with someone because they are black". Not because he is racist! But just so he starts to understand that in the future it's not an okay reason. Building blocks and all that.

Fideliney Wed 18-Jun-14 00:56:44

I'm making the distinction that I don't believe for one second that is the reason he didn't share with him. It sounds like that is a reason he offered when pressed for one afterwards.

Pointing out that it is a RUDE thing to SAY is probably wise I agree, but I wouldn't be buying into nonsense about the poor DS's actions being motivated by racist impulses. Not in a child that hasn't been exposed to racist influence.

MwahMum Wed 18-Jun-14 00:58:41

Many parents do not teach their children "no matter what we look like we are all the same, regardless of colour etc" I believe racism is taught I find it hard to believe it just comes naturally.

If my son made a comment like that I would feel so ashamed of myself and I would be thinking of a suitable punishment for him, children should see other children as children not colour, very pleased that my son is friends with all different nationalities.

gertiegusset Wed 18-Jun-14 01:01:22

What Fideline said, totally.
He is three.
He just doesn't KNOW unless he has been influenced.

Fideliney Wed 18-Jun-14 01:01:52

Mwah do get a grip.

It wasn't a comment - he was being questioned by nursery staff about why he didn't want to share. He probably didn't have a good answer and blurted something at random.

I still don't have a good excuse for hogging things to myself at my age.

caruthers Wed 18-Jun-14 01:02:36

Teaching a child that we are all the same when the child quite clearly sees that we are not is confusing to say the least.

gertiegusset Wed 18-Jun-14 01:03:14

MwahMum, I would not be punishing a 3 year old for something he must have learned.

PrincessBabyCat Wed 18-Jun-14 01:03:24

If it wasn't because he was black, it would have been because of the color shirt he was wearing. Your kid just didn't want to share. End of. Nursery is reading way too deeply into a toddler's reason that he shouldn't have been asked for in the first place. He should have just been told to share and shown how to do that.

I hate the 'we are all the same' narrative. Saying 'I don't see colour' is saying 'I don't see you as you are, I see you as I want to see you'.

I had a friend in college that pulled this bullshit with me and DH saying "I'm color blind. I don't see race". I told him I wasn't color blind and was with DH because I thought his caramel skin looked sexy and exotic. All of my dark friends are proud of their race, and their culture should be embraced instead of trying to assimilate and white wash them.

gertiegusset Wed 18-Jun-14 01:05:09

Are we not all the same Caruthers?

MwahMum Wed 18-Jun-14 01:05:37

Fideliney Probably didn't have a good answer? He is 3... 3 year olds find it very hard to lie, sounds like you are condoning it.

trufflesnout Wed 18-Jun-14 01:07:05

Fideliney I don't think what we're saying is too different really.

Whatever the motivation of the child (tbh how will we ever know if he's ever been exposed to racist influences at whatever point in his life - plus, you're right, he's 3) I think it only becomes an ishoo if OP glazes over it and doesn't stop to say "that wasn't fair of you".

No matter of his intention, he has to start to understand that what he says actually means something. I'm not sure when the turning point is in a childs development when they start to learn about emotional consequences/others feelings, but IMO it's not too early just to let him gently know that, whether he meant it or not, it wasn't a good thing to say.

gertiegusset Wed 18-Jun-14 01:08:24

I'm with DP because I like him BabyPrincess, not because he's exotic.

caruthers Wed 18-Jun-14 01:08:32


Apart from looking different and having completely different cultures yes.

But those nuances a 3 year old will not get will they?

We are different.

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