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DD(3) has just made me so sad (comment about skin colour)

(36 Posts)
Throwaway98765 Mon 29-Jun-20 18:19:07

Please be gentle with me if you reply, I’ve got quite bad anxiety and have almost been in tears with this.

DD recently turned 3, and is fairly stereotypically ‘girly’ in her toy/hobby choices. She loves Peppa, Frozen (Anna and Elsa were the first characters she was really into), her doll, unicorn stuff, sparkly stuff, things like that.

Recently she seems to have noticed skin colour, and when we were looking at dolls together online, she said ‘that dolly is brown. I don’t like that one.’ I casually said something like, yes, dolls are like people, skin colours can be different. We live in a very white area, and so she’s not really exposed to people of other ethnic backgrounds, but I have made an effort to buy story books with families/children of different ethnic backgrounds in, and the same with the television she sees.

Today we saw an advert featuring a Black baby, and I said how beautiful they were and how I remember her being that age. She looked up and said ‘I don’t like brown babies.’

I froze, and felt utterly mortified. I said not to be silly, that all babies are beautiful, but inside my heart fell out. I’ve been fretting about it ever since. I would hate for someone to think she heard anything like that at home, I know small children sometimes make embarrassing comments but that could be really upsetting for someone if she said anything like that when we’re out and about. She can be forthright in her opinions (she told me she didn’t like my hair after I had it cut) but I just felt absolutely gutted to hear her say that. I know she’s only little but it’s awful to hear, my older DC never made a comment like this, so it’s really weird for me that she’s spoken like this.

Has anyone got any advice?

OP’s posts: |
Tlollj Mon 29-Jun-20 18:22:34

I’d just ignore tbh. She doesn’t realise what she’s saying. If it comes up again just do what you did. People come in all shapes sizes colours etc. But I really wouldn’t worry.

Veterinari Mon 29-Jun-20 18:22:37

I totally understand your anxiety but you have to remember she doesn't understand that societal implications of 'race'.

Simply bring it back to using kind words. It's not nice to comment on appearance regardless and discourage her from being unkind to others by commenting on appearance. Teach her that actions matter.

romdowa Mon 29-Jun-20 18:24:47

Just keep reinforcing the idea that it's not nice to say you dont like someone because they are a different colour and as she gets bigger and has a better understanding she will stop saying it.

When I was her age, maybe a little younger , i ended up in hospital. Eventually a doctor came around and he was from Africa. He tried to approach me and i became hysterical and wouldn't let him near me, i kept roaring that he was dirty 😅😅 my parents nearly died of shame and kept telling me to stop but even after the doctor had washed his hands in front of me , I was still having none of it. This was 30 years ago so I had never seen a person of colour in my life before. My parents apologized profusely to the doctor and he said it was fine. I was just a child. I didnt end up racist, I was just a small child who couldn't understand why he was a different colour.

ScottishStottie Mon 29-Jun-20 18:29:02

If shes had very little experience with anyone who isnt white, a black doll is not something she can relate to in any way so she would prefer a white one that she can relate to. To her at the moment, her world and knowledge is still growing, and this concept of non white people is still abstract to her.

Dont make a fuss as this could just make her uncomfortable, just gently continue to introduce the concept that not everyone is white. Look for kids films, tv etc?

Iwonder08 Mon 29-Jun-20 18:52:03

Maybe she just liked the dolls looking similar to her? By all means do explain that every skin colour is beautiful etc, but 3yo is definitely not racist and there is absolutely no need to be that sad

eeyore228 Mon 29-Jun-20 18:57:55

I wouldn’t read too much into it. She is still learning and tbh maybe you are reading more into this because of current events. Keep doing what you are doing so that she sees lots of different people represented in activities like reading. 3 is very young to understand race and colour.

Throwaway98765 Mon 29-Jun-20 19:04:08

Thanks everyone. I think I probably got myself into a bit of panic, I’m a huge worrier and she is still very little.

OP’s posts: |
Letsallscreamatthesistene Mon 29-Jun-20 19:06:40

I think probably what she means deep down is that she doesnt like things that are different to her because she struggles to understand properly. Thats ok. Shes 3 and grown up in a predominatly white area.

I agree with PP. Just keep reinforcing that its not nice to dislike people because their skin is a different colour, that everyone is kind etc etc.

Nobody is born a racist. They are made by their environment.

GameSetMatch Mon 29-Jun-20 19:13:31

Little ones want dolly’s that look like them, when I was little I refused to have pale skin blonde hair dolly’s, I’m not racist I just wanted a dolly that looked like me! I didn’t like the blonde hair blue eye dolly’s because they were different. Don’t stress about it.

BenScalesIsAGod Mon 29-Jun-20 19:18:26

Could you get some books with children of different races in? When lockdown is over maybe travel a bit further afield? Even in rural areas I can’t imagine it’s particularly easy to never see a person of colour?

BenScalesIsAGod Mon 29-Jun-20 19:20:10

Sorry just saw you have the books etc. I’d just do as the others have said then. I would try and broaden her horizons a bit as she gets older. At 3 she can’t have meant it in a malicious way x

Turnedouttoes Mon 29-Jun-20 19:20:57

When my sister was a baby there was a black lady who worked at her nursery. We lived in a very white area and she’d never seen a black person before and screamed anytime this lady came near her.
My mum bought her a black dolly and after a while she was totally fine. She definitely didn’t grow up a racist either so I don’t think you need to worry too much

kayakingmum Mon 29-Jun-20 19:21:52

Don't over-analyse it. My daughter will look at a book and say - I don't like her hair, or I don't like her eyes e.t.c. If your daughter says something like that again there may be something there. If not, it's probably just a one off.

Could you take her somewhere on a semi-regular basis where she can see people which have a different ethnic origin? Maybe a city or large town?

clareykb Mon 29-Jun-20 19:22:30

I'm a teacher and I used to work in nursery. I echo what other posters have said she just doesn't relate to the characters and toys who don't look like her. but as you live in a very white area (we do too) I'd make an effort to introduce the idea of other races..if she loves Disney princesses for example watch Princess and the frog or Moana. When mine were a bit older we used to take them to things like the Chinese New year parade and Indian restaurants to make them a bit more aware of other cultures. Mine are currently asking about same sex relationships a lot as a child with 2 mummies has started going to their school...they just haven't had any experience of that before and so I just don't think they realised someone could have 2 mums so we have done the same with that, talked about different families and how that is totally ok!

MamaLion1319 Mon 29-Jun-20 19:22:36

Research shows that between the ages of 3-5 children have already been subconsciously programmed to associate black or brown people as being bad or scary or ugly. I discovered this myself when my own DS sobbed and said he wanted to be white like his daddy cos brown people are bad. There was a man speaking about it on this morning recently with all the BLM exposure. I can't remember his name but I can't imagine it would be too difficult to find. Your DD is very little so unless she's BAME herself (you haven't said) I'd hope she'd grow out of it if she doesn't learn subconscious bias from within her own home ☺️

eddiemairswife Mon 29-Jun-20 19:24:30

It used to be one of the toys that most little girls had along with a teddy bear, white dolls, a golly. I wasn't a dolly loving little girl but I didn't dislike my black doll, named (by my mother) Sambo. It was many years ago I should add.

MamaLion1319 Mon 29-Jun-20 19:25:05

As PP have said no need to force the issue, it's all learning and innocent at this age.

Muffey Mon 29-Jun-20 19:38:53

My nephew went through this stage when he was 3 as well. He had always loved his key worker at nursery who was a black lady. After a year at nursery he suddenly came home one day and said that he didn't like her because she had brown skin. He then came home and said he didn't like his friend at nursery because he had brown skin. He repeated these sentiments for a couple of weeks (only to my sister fortunately) and then suddenly stopped and now he keeps saying he can't wait to return to nursery because he gets to see his friend and his keyworker. It was a phase based on his development and realisation that people can all look different. Once he'd processed this information he stopped saying it and has not spoken about skin colour since.

In your situation I agree with pps. She's realised that people can look different to her and unfamiliar things can sometimes seem scary or unnerving to a small child. So she is expressing it as not liking something when really it's not that she doesn't like something, it's more that she doesn't understand and can't relate to the differences. Just keep talking to her and drawing attention to the differences in people (not just to do with race- looking at differences between herself and others like hair colour or texture, glasses, size, sex, freckles etc) and expose her to a variety of people via books, tv etc.

Hmpher Mon 29-Jun-20 19:40:13

I think she is very young and has no idea of race/skin colour etc. Just keep doing what you’re doing. My son said something similar when he was younger and to him it was exactly the same as expressing a dislike of colour on anything else. It’s similar to children saying they don’t like the colour of somebody’s hair. They are still learning. I know how awful that sounds, but a three year old just doesn’t yet understand why saying you don’t like the colour of a cup would be ok but not the colour of a person’s skin. I felt pretty horrified too. We live in a pretty white area but live near a very racially diverse city so we regularly went there for the library etc and he would just see lots of different people out and about. I also bought books with different skin tones as main characters, so he knew it’s just normal, and then also some books specifically talking about race in an age appropriate way. I think right now there are lots of articles online about how to talk to children about race, pretty sure I’ve seen recommendations of books for different age groups but if you google you’re sure to find lots of recommendations.

Bolloxx Mon 29-Jun-20 19:54:27

romdowa

Just keep reinforcing the idea that it's not nice to say you dont like someone because they are a different colour and as she gets bigger and has a better understanding she will stop saying it.

When I was her age, maybe a little younger , i ended up in hospital. Eventually a doctor came around and he was from Africa. He tried to approach me and i became hysterical and wouldn't let him near me, i kept roaring that he was dirty 😅😅 my parents nearly died of shame and kept telling me to stop but even after the doctor had washed his hands in front of me , I was still having none of it. This was 30 years ago so I had never seen a person of colour in my life before. My parents apologized profusely to the doctor and he said it was fine. I was just a child. I didnt end up racist, I was just a small child who couldn't understand why he was a different colour.

30 years ago? 1990? And you had only ever seen white people?

FourCandelabras Mon 29-Jun-20 20:01:51

Apologies if you already know these, but some great programmes for 3 year olds that have non-white characters/ people are Doc McStuffins, Elena of Avalor, Dora the explorer (All Disney) jojo and GranGran, Apple tree house, let’s go for a walk (all CBeebies). Maybe encourage her to watch these sometimes to familiarise herself, if you live in a predominantly white area?

Throwaway98765 Mon 29-Jun-20 20:24:33

I forgot to add - we are white. Thanks again, and for all the suggestions of books and films etc - I will definitely look into those without forcing anything. Also love the idea of eating out in different places.

OP’s posts: |
HeLa1 Mon 29-Jun-20 20:30:37

Definitely do not ignore this; racism is a very serious issue. Obviously your daughter wasn't intending to be racist, she is a child, but intent does not matter. Imagine if she had said this to a black or brown child, it would have been very damaging.

The UK is still a racist country so all children (even BAME ones) grow up with racial prejudice. As parents we have to undo these biases. I second PPs suggestions of shows like Doc Mcstuffins, books and toys with BAME representation. I would also talk to your daughter about racism, don't assume "colour blindness" because children do notice race and comment on it.

SimonJT Mon 29-Jun-20 20:40:09

Its probably fairly common, we are at the other end of the spectrum, my son dislikes being brown as he thinks it gets him into trouble and he knows its bad as he gets mean comments at school from some children.

Three is old enough to talk about it, so at least you have that on your side. But obviously she’ll choose the most embarrassing time to say something!

I didn’t see a person of a different race (in real life) until I moved to the UK when I was eight, there was a girl with really orange ginger hair in my primary class at school. I can still remember being amazed by her hair, I probably didn’t even know red hair existed.

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