Children become aware of gender, race, ethnicity, and disabilities before entering kindergarten. They form views at a young age, absorbing any bias or judgments from the adults in their life. It is important for parents to teach their children how to respect and appreciate others, creating a positive habit to take throughout their life.
Creating an environment for children to interact with kids from other backgrounds and cultures is important to their healthy development. It allows them to see the differences among each other and value them, instead of judging or turning away.
Other ways to promote diversity and teach children that prejudice is wrong include…
- Taking initiative. It is no shock that biases do exist in our society. Ignoring them and taking the silent route will allow children to fall into the wrong path. Counter act the silence by introducing multicultural books, toys, and television shows that demonstrate our wonderful diverse world.
- Having an open line of communication on the topic. Ask children questions about their experiences or their curiosities with diversity. And, be there to listen when they have questions or concerns. Respond in a way that demonstrates the positive characteristics of others and how we all benefit from our culturally mixed society.
- Teaching by example. Children pick up on the actions and reactions of the adults in their lives. Act respectively toward all individuals- no matter what their ethnic background, race, or medical condition might be. And, by all means, never take part in a bias or prejudice joke or comment toward an individual or race.
- Providing opportunities for children to learn about other cultures. This could be in play groups, community organizations, instructional videos and children seminars, or trips to museums and cultural centers. Acknowledging and celebrating other cultural holidays can also help.
- Offering support and communication tools for children to use if confronted by others challenging who they are and where they come from. Build their self esteem to be proud of their background and to appreciate others with similar or different backgrounds.