How to Teach Children About Diversity
In our beautiful melting pot that is the United States of America, teaching our children about inclusivity and acceptance from a young age is essential. As parents, it’s our responsibility to raise compassionate, empathetic, and open-minded children who appreciate the beauty of our diverse world. In this blog, we’ll explore some easy ways to introduce the concepts of diversity, equity, and inclusion to your little ones, nurturing a sense of tolerance and acceptance that will last a lifetime.
Start with yourself.
Before you can teach your child about diversity and inclusion, take some time to reflect on your own biases, beliefs, and attitudes. Children are like mirrors for their parents’ behavior, so it’s incredibly important to model the values you want to instill in them. Be mindful of how you speak about other cultures and traditions, and respond with openness and curiosity when your little one asks questions.
Encourage your child to embrace diversity by celebrating differences. If there’s a new friend in your child’s life who wears different clothes, eats unfamiliar foods, or has a different skin color, take the opportunity to speak with your child about cultural differences. If an unfamiliar holiday comes up on the school calendar, take the opportunity to teach your child about the holiday and the culture that celebrates it! Welcome any questions your child may have, and if you don’t know the answer, find out together! Small gestures like this will normalize the concept of diversity in your child’s mind.
Read books and watch movies that represent other cultures.
Along with celebrating our differences comes the decision to include books, movies, and other media that represent other cultures. Doing this will seamlessly weave familiarity and acceptance of differences in your child’s mind! The next time you plan a family movie night, check out this list of family-friendly movies that celebrate diversity, and the next time you tuck your little one into bed, choose one of these amazing books that teach children to value diversity!
We all want our children to grow up to be kind adults. Start encouraging them at a young age to imagine what it would be like to be someone else – to put themselves in someone else’s shoes. This is a powerful tool to help them to identify the similarities that we all share, while celebrating the fact that we are all unique!
Use inclusive language.
Language is powerful, so be mindful of the words you use. Use inclusive language that acknowledges and respects all genders, races, and abilities. Although you may not agree with every tenet of every religion, or every cultural viewpoint, it is still possible to speak with respect and to avoid derogatory language or disparaging comments. Correct your child gently if they use language that reinforces stereotypes or otherwise could be considered offensive. This is a great opportunity to remind yourself and model for your little one that you don’t have to agree with everyone, but it is still important to treat everyone with respect!
Exposure is everything.
At the end of the day, the best way to teach your children about our diverse country is by exposing them to people of all walks of life: all races, religions, and socioeconomic backgrounds, when possible. Experiencing the sameness we all share as humans while acknowledging the beauty in our differences is the best way to raise kind, empathetic children.