Immigration is a hot topic of late, particularly since Brexit has dominated our headlines. Your child might be asking questions about what the word and the concept means, and if not discussed sensitively, it can stir up some emotive feelings. They may have friends, or you may have family that has been affected by the process, and if they do not understand what it is, they may find it scary. It is something that many of us as adults find difficult to understand, let alone young children. Nevertheless, it is an important subject to be addressed, particularly if you want your children to grow up to be empathetic and compassionate members of their communities.
In this post, we are going to look at how you can talk to your children about immigration.
Start with your own learning
The more you educate yourself, the more you can teach your children. Do not just believe what you read or see in the mainstream media or social media – do your research.
Use clear and simple language
Like lots of official processes, immigration involves a lot of legal terms and jargon, all of which can be very intimidating for anyone to understand, let alone a child. If a child is overwhelmed with words and phrases that he or she does not understand, along with an enormous concept, he or she can switch off and become reluctant to learn, or even scared, about the subject. When discussing immigration, try to use vocabulary that is straightforward and child-friendly, but try not to infantize it.
Find out the extent of their knowledge
Immigration is such a major and current issue, so it may be difficult reading about it in the mainstream media. You may be astonished at how much your child or children already know. Nevertheless, they may have also picked up some misleading information from playground encounters, or misinterpreting what they have stumbled across. Before you get the subject up, subtly try to figure out what they think they know.
Talk about the people that help
When we discuss immigration, we can often speak very negatively about the people that they may be moving away from or those who may be stopping them from moving to a new location. It is useful to talk to your child or children about the people who are helping someone through the immigration process, such as the immigration solicitors. Show them that there are good people out there, helping and fixing things when they are unjust.
Encourage empathetic feelings
Obviously, this depends on the age and maturity level of your child or children, but maybe ask them to think about how they might feel if they were separated from their families in an unfamiliar place. Encourage them to think about their feelings-encouraging compassion is more likely to make them want to do something constructive to help in the future!