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Explaining racism to a 4 year old.

(13 Posts)
SheSellsSanctury Thu 10-Jul-08 09:49:15

My 4 year old DS was watching Cbeebies the other day when a guy came on and DS said "I dont like that man cause he has brown skin" I was totally shock. Had a chat to him about this and it came down to the fact that he did not like this guys curly hair but the fact that he mentioned the colour of his skin really worried me. His favourite Cbeebies presenter is Sid so not sure why he should suddenly come out with this.

Also his friend is nursery is Asian and it has never crossed his mind that they may look different. Unfortunatley where we live there are very few non white people, apart from his friend at nurserys family, so he is not used to experiencing different races and cultures.

Really would appreciate some help in dealing with this, does anyone know of any good books that would help.

SheSellsSanctury Thu 10-Jul-08 12:31:10


Vinegar Thu 10-Jul-08 14:10:55

I wouldn't worry about it too much shesellsanctuary. He is obviously getting the right messages at home, so it might just be a one off. His friend is Asian too, so it doesn't sound like you need too do too much. It probably is just the fact that he doesn't see too many non-white faces. I would worry more if he was older and maybe was picking it up from someone from school, but that doesn't seem the case here.

SheSellsSanctury Thu 10-Jul-08 18:12:02

Thanks Vinegar, really took me aback but as you say hopefully it was just a one off.

MmeBovary Thu 10-Jul-08 18:58:15

Actually this is quite timely. My dd has been doing countries of the world at kindergarten and there is a boy from Morocco and one from India, so she's got a very simplified grasp on different coloured skin and clothing etc and where people come from. We were talking about her uncle in the US and she asked what colour faces people had there, and on the bus the other night she pointed at a black guy and said really loudly - "Look he has a brown face, he must come from Morocco!" Brussels is really cosmopolitan sound she's bound to mix with people from lots of different countries...but I don't really know how to explain skin colour differences to a 4 year old without talking about genetics etc...There were very few people of ethnic origin where I lived when I was little and my parents were unfortunately complete rascists blush. She's obviously just noticing that people look different and I want to give a positive message. (I hope I don't come across as being rascist myself - I'm certainly not - I think because of my upbringing I have a bit of a complex about it....) Any advice?

anotherdayyetanothernickname Fri 11-Jul-08 17:37:55

erm aren't all people 'of ethnic origin' Mbovary? hmm
(love your name by the way! A wonderful book.)

anotherdayyetanothernickname Fri 11-Jul-08 17:39:47

How about 'some people have darker skin because their ancestors (might have to explain that word) come from hotter countries where dark skin provided more protection from the sun?

Would that work? I'd be really matter of fact about it with her.

I imagine if you google something like explaining skin colour to children, there might be some articles about it with ideas?

windygalestoday Fri 11-Jul-08 17:40:04

i just explained to my children that the world is a big place and people from different parts may look different but underneath we are all the same.

MarsLady Fri 11-Jul-08 17:40:09

They all notice colour at some point and use it as a reference. I don't think that your DS was saying that he dislikes people with brown skin. It's more likely that he couldn't quantify why he didn't like the presenter and so he doesn't like him because of his brown skin (iyswim)

sarah293 Fri 11-Jul-08 17:41:41

Message withdrawn

avenanap Fri 11-Jul-08 17:42:12

I'd say that we are all the same on the inside, our skins all have different colours because a long time ago peoples families came from different parts of the world that was hot or cold and their skins changed to protect them from the sun. We have white skin because the sun's not very hot all year round here.

Elibean Fri 11-Jul-08 18:54:03

I think dd at just 4 didn't notice colour at all - I asked her to describe various friends/teachers at her pre-school, and skin never came into it at all.

But a few weeks ago, at 4.5, we were 'making fairies' on the computer (its a bit of free software from something or other) and they have to choose hair, clothes, skin, eyes etc. dd said she wanted the palest skin colour 'because its pretty, darker skin is yucky, I don't like it' and I was shock and concerned.

I asked her why, and I think its because she basically wants a fairy that looks like a) herself and b) every Disney princess and Barbie she's managed to spot (she hasn't seen Alibaba yet!). Which last bothers me even more. I also said 'but X (one of her favourite teachers) has very dark skin' and she rolled her eyes and said 'oh mummy, thats different, she's beautiful'.

I am sort of baffled, tbh.

She's starting at a reasonably culturally/racially mixed primary in september, so hopefully that'll help...

Elibean Fri 11-Jul-08 18:59:47

Mind you, one of her best friends is Egyptian and fairly dark skinned, and a bigger Barbie/Disney fan than dd. She came back from holiday and her mother was commenting on how she had a 'lovely tan' and the LO started to cry and said 'I don't want dark skin, its horrid'. This was a while before the dd episode.

Barbie has a lot to answer for angry

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