SAVANNAH, Ga (WSAV) – As protests continue to erupt around the country, many parents are worried about what their children may be seeing.
Experts say it is time for parents to have those tough, often uncomfortable, conversations with their kids about racism, injustice, and police brutality. Everett E. Tolbert, a Licensed Professional Counselor in Savannah, told News 3 that kids can pick up on their parents’ anxiety and fear.
“Anger is a natural emotion. It’s okay to have that, but how we express it is how we either have a positive or a negative consequence,” said Tolbert.
The counselor proposed five ways for parents to broach these difficult topics with their kids. He said the first, is to listen with understanding. The second, he advises adults to create a safe space for children to express their emotions. Third, he also encourages parents to answer their kids’ questions truthfully and share their past experiences dealing with discrimination. Fourth, the counselor is urging parents to lead by example.
Tolbert is a former corrections officer in Southwest Georgia. He told News 3 that he believes the rioting and looting children are seeing on television in other cities across the country does not solve what protestors are trying to accomplish.
“We’re there to serve and protect, not to harm but to serve. I think that’s something that should be explained to our kids, the purpose that law enforcement is there for, and help them with understanding that,” said Tolbert.
Lastly, the expert said it is important to have these open and honest conversations with kids so that parents can help children process what they are seeing and give them perspective. If parents need help, he tells them not to be afraid to use their community resources.
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