How to Talk to Your Child About the Will Smith and Chris Rock Incident


One makes a mean joke to someone who touches a nerve, and someone who cares about the target gets upset, kicks or kicks or clowns.

This time it’s a scene that unfolds between the comedian joking about Jada Pinkett Smith’s short hair and her husband’s fiery reaction, but for many kids, it’s a daily occurrence.

Now that such encounters have made their way into memes and TikTok, it can be difficult for parents and other caregivers to understand these events and tell their children with context and guidance.

The conversation is likely to involve complex topics such as: when is it funny to make fun and when is it bullying? What kind of response is appropriate in different situations? How can we support our loved ones in a way that best supports them?

These questions are answered in different ways, but a psychologist can help guide the conversation with your child.

curious about yourself

Before discussing these topics with your children, it may be helpful to consider cultural background and social influences that influence how you view your family situation and ideals, says Kira BanksAssociate Professor and Co-Founder, Department of Psychology, Saint Louis University Justice and Equity Healing Institute.

Some families never believe in teasing, while others focus on finding the appropriate course of action. Banks said being able to insult each other or “hit ten” is an important cultural skill for many black communities.

It’s important not to oversimplify the context in which we and our children have these conflicts, she said.

“You want to be able to tell a toddler that violence is not the solution, we use words to solve problems, but we live in a complex society and we’re at war,” Banks said. It would be “dishonest” to deny this reality. It’s our responsibility to help them see the nuance, even if we can’t wrap it neatly well. »

Adults may find it more difficult to express themselves accurately, given gender and ethnicity.

The bank encourages adults to consider how these topics affect their own goals. She added that society’s expectations of masculinity may have made Smith’s behavior appear chivalrous or patriarchal. Racial views may limit some people’s understanding of why a joke about black women’s hair is insensitive.

to ask questions

Wendy Rice, a psychologist in Tampa, Florida, says the best place to start a conversation with a child isn’t a class. This is problematic.

Don’t know what to ask? Here are some suggestions: What do you think about watching Chris Rock and Will Smith? Can you understand why Smith is upset? Do you think this joke crosses the line? Do you think Smith’s response makes sense? What were his other options at the time? How do you think Jada Pinkett Smith, who lost her hair due to hair loss, feels?

“What we really want to do is create thinking kids,” Rice said. “How to make it a learning moment that kids can hear, instead of parents saying, ‘No, don’t do that. « »

Talking to your child can understand these important contextual nuances and help them understand where you stand as a family on these topics and where they stand as individuals, Banks says.

model behavior

Questions aside, parents and guardians can provide role models for their children when there are no clear answers to these topics.

“When kids say things that cross a line, or when a parent is with a child and they hear someone cross a line, parents can say, ‘Whoops, this is really going to make that person feel worse about themselves,'” Rice said. “. .

A quick “ouch” when you hear hurtful comments from your child, their TV or movie, or from those around you, can help your child set an example of acknowledging the impact of others’ feelings and words, she said.

Adults can also mimic appropriate ways to cope with hurt feelings and support loved ones. Rice recommends asking your child this question: “How would you like me to react if someone said something I thought would hurt you?” »

These types of questions show your child that your actions are supportive and responsive to their feelings. However, as they get older, their feelings about someone defending themselves or covering up an offense to avoid more embarrassment may change and should be revisited over time. Rice said.

Leave room for experience

Top tip for you and your kids: This isn’t a quick one-off conversation, Banks says. These thoughts are complex and will come up again and again throughout their lives.

You don’t need to figure it all out in one conversation, and they don’t need to define these things for themselves right away.

The truth is, they may have to go through the experience of being offended and offending others; responding to pain in ways they like and dislike; and being an effective support for others without reaching their goals, Rice said.

Banks says these conversations are important in helping them understand the impact they can have on others and define the values ​​they aspire to. Rice said we can show them that when they face these issues there are consequences, but also opportunities for forgiveness and retry.

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