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Expert explains balance of discussing racial injustice with young children

Topics like racism and police brutality can be hard for some kids to digest.

WASHINGTON — The protests across the country have been impossible to ignore, and parents have been forced to have difficult conversations with their kids about what is happening.

Topics like racism and police brutality can be hard for some kids to digest.

Dr. LaKesha Legree, owner of Elev8MD Wellness Center, said it is important for parents to take into consideration the age of their children and their child's maturity levels.

WUSA9 spoke with several parents about why each of them found it important to bring their young children to protests in the District to fight against racial inequality.

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"I'm raising three boys and five girls," one mother said. "It means the world to me. I can't sit home and do nothing."

Legree said starting the dialogue about racism early can be beneficial when put into the right context depending on the child.

"It is something that has to be done. If I don’t talk to them, and they go out into the world and don’t know, it could be more detrimental than them sitting there finding out at a young age how to handle something," the mother of eight explained.

"We’ve been having the conversation with him for a couple of years now just because we don't have the luxury of not," another mother said while marching through Chinatown.

"It's important to bring him out and show him to start the foundation of what he has to look forward to -- possibilities of discrimination that may happen and how he kind of maneuver through that," a mother said with her son in the U Street Corridor.

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Three mothers, raising black children, having tough, but real conversations about what it means to be black in America with their sons who are as young as 3 and 5 years old.

Legree said it is important to expose children to the realities of the world at some level to prepare them to handle situations they may face at school or with friends.

"I think, if you're not mindful of the maturity level of the child, and, I think, if you’re not mindful of the details that you provide to the child, then you can definitely cross that threshold from being helpful to harmful," Legree said.

She explained harmful exposure could lead to depression or anxiety.

"Clinical signs of anxiety and depression are different in children than they are in adults," Legree explained.

Legree advised parents should look out for unusual bed wetting, night terrors, behavioral issues, or an inability to focus.

RELATED: 1968 DC riots may help find solutions for current problems affecting black Americans

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