Updated: Aug 22, 2021
It is never too early to teach children about diversity, as research shows that from around the age of two, children are aware of physical differences and that from around two and a half they may start to feel uncomfortable about these differences. From around age three, they may start to ask about their skin, hair or eye colour and may want to know if it will remain the same throughout life. At around age four, children may begin to express negative and discriminatory views about skin colour and appearance.
So, how can you as parents ensure that your children grow up to be culturally sensitive and respectful and take a stand against bias, racism and insensitivity?
It's all about you
It begins with you, the parents. Children are constantly watching and learning from their parents. You are their first role models. It is imperative therefore, that you model being culturally sensitive and respectful and that you show that you are against bias, racism and insensitivity. If you do have your own prejudices, then you need to resolve these or prevent yourself from inflicting them on your children, so that they are able to be open to new experiences and people.
It is OK not to have all the answers or know everything, but if you are unsure take the time to find out. Your children will look to you for answers. Don't ignore their questions or comments about differences, explain you don't know and offer to find out the answers together. Ignoring questions or comments will make your children see these differences as a negative thing.
Have toys and books that reflect diversity
Young children learn through play and so having toys such as small world figures, dolls, puzzles and role play clothes and items that reflect diversity are important. Books are also a great learning tool so ensure you have a good selection that show it is good to be different.
Eat food from other countries
It is very easy nowadays for your children to sample cuisine from other countries and it is a great, tasty way to introduce them to different cultures. Involve your children in the cooking process too to make it fun.
Have a globe, atlas or map
Physically being able to see a country can spark great conversations about that area of the world and allows your children opportunities to ask questions and explore different cultures.
These are all very simple, easy ways to ensure that you equip your children with the right attitudes and behaviours that will hopefully change their future world into a more accepting and respectful place.