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How To Talk To Children About Race with Dr Pragya Agarwal

by Dr. Rangan Chatterjee   /  March 17, 2021

This conversation is about a really important topic – how we should talk about bias, discrimination and race. The advice is relevant for everyone, whether you have children or not but will be particularly helpful if you’ve ever felt confused or conflicted about how to talk to children about race. My guest is the brilliant Dr Pragya Agarwal, she’s a behavioural scientist, an academic, a journalist and an award-winning author, who has written widely on unconscious bias and prejudice, racial inequality, parenting and gender. Dr Agarwal’s most recent book Wish We Knew What To Say: Talking With Children About Race is a super-practical, readable manual for people of all backgrounds and ethnicities.

I think many people want to get involved in the conversation around race and discrimination but can sometimes feel fearful and scared of saying the wrong thing. I had these common sentiments at the top of my mind when having this conversation with Dr Agarwal and I hope you will find this conversation non-judgmental and compassionate.

We begin by talking about at what age it’s appropriate to bring up the subject of race with children – and why ignoring differences in race or skin may not be helpful if we want our children to thrive in a diverse, multi-cultural world. We also discuss the importance of proactively talking about race and privilege with your children no matter what your skin colour. In fact, research shows that when children witness racism, or even see it in the media, it can have adverse effects on their health and wellbeing – even if it’s not directed at them.

Dr Agarwal and I share our own personal experiences of racism and why an open dialogue on these issues is vital. We talk about a wide range of related issues including, unpacking what bias really means, understanding where it comes from, and how to know what the right terminology is to use when it comes to race. I love how Pragya explains how we can help our children to stay comfortably curious but non-judgemental, how to teach them to recognise and address unfairness and how to discourage them from shame and guilt but promote empathy and allyship.  

This episode is a hugely practical guide for anyone, of any skin colour, who wants to learn the methods, tools and vocabulary that we can use to talk about people’s differences. This really was a wonderful conversation and I hope that it will contribute towards a more equal and connected world.

Disclaimer: The content in the podcast and on this webpage is not intended to constitute or be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.*

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Watch the video version of this interview – click below.

'We want to help our children see that difference exists but that difference should not be the basis for inequality in the world.' Click To Tweet

Connect with Pragya:

Website     Instagram     

Twitter     Facebook

Pragya’s Books:

Sway: Unravelling Unconscious Bias

Wish We Knew What to Say: Talking with Children About Race

Further Learning:

Related Feel Better Live More podcast episodes:

#117 Why Black Lives Matter with Darryl Edwards

#157 Priyanka Chopra Jonas on Self-Worth, Success and Walking Your Own Path

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Dr Chatterjee’s books and resources:


*DISCLAIMER: Always seek the advice of your doctor or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have heard on the podcast or on my website.

†Disclosure: All books marked with a † are hyperlinked to an affiliate program. We take part in Amazon’s affiliate advertising program designed to provide a way for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon’s website. You are not charged any extra by using these links to purchase books.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee MbChB, BSc (Hons), MRCP, MRCGP