Diversity is a beautiful thing when acknowledged. It can help us acquire more knowledge and insights. Diversity can help us grow and live harmoniously with other people. However, diversity can also cause conflict and isolation when it is not respected and accepted. These truths make it very crucial to teach our children about diversity.
- Diversity meaning
- Why teach our children about diversity
- Diversity lessons we can teach our children
- Activities and practices that help children learn about diversity
The Oxford Learners Dictionary defines diversity as a range of many people or things that are very different from each other. In a sociological context, diversity refers to differences in race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, sexuality, religion, socio-economic status, age, body size, ideologies, abilities, and experiences in our society.
Why teach our children about diversity
Diversity can be a challenging issue to teach our children when it is a challenge we face ourselves. Nevertheless, as parents, we have to guide our children to become more respectful and resilient human beings amidst differences. We can teach them lessons we gained from our experiences and our own biases.
We teach our children about diversity to develop awareness, respect, and acceptance of the differences that exist in our society today. As they know more about diversity, we hope that they learn to live with such differences free from biases. We also hope that our children will develop empathy, tolerance, and resiliency as they live in a more diverse world
Diversity lessons we can teach our children
Here are some lessons we can teach our children about diversity.
1. Diversity goes beyond skin color
One important lesson we can teach our children is that diversity goes beyond skin color. Our children need to see beyond the obvious. We must teach our children that diversity also means having different religions, nationalities, body sizes, abilities, and opinions.
Depending on their age, younger children may not yet understand the other aspects of diversity, but it is good to instill in them early on what diversity means in general.
2. Diversity can help us grow
While they are still young, it is good to teach our children that diversity is a good thing. They can take advantage of cultural and societal differences to help them grow. Let this be an opportunity for them to acquire more knowledge and broaden their horizon.
Being open to differences also allows our children to grow into more emphatic and more tolerant individuals.
3. Diversity can cause isolation
Our children tend to identify and engage with other children who are similar to them, especially those who look like them. This preference is called unconscious or implicit bias. While these biases are typical, they need to be controlled to avoid isolation or conflict.
For example, our children may think that other children who do not look like them are different. Such behavior can create an atmosphere of isolation and even discrimination. We can explain that this is what others may feel if your child and a group of friends are not welcoming of those who are not like them.
4. Diversity should not be feared
It is an excellent lesson to teach our children that we should not fear diversity. Diversity is beautiful. Let us reassure our children that we should not be afraid of being different from others because it makes us who we are. Having this kind of mentality helps develop tolerance and resilience in children.
5. We are all equal
Young children need to understand (and keep in mind) that we are all equal. We are all human beings. No individual, race, culture, religion, or gender is superior to another. We must teach in our children the value of being “fair” to everyone despite differences.
6. Self-awareness is vital in accepting differences
When children know who they are, they begin to understand how they differ from other children. When they are aware of these differences, it will be easier for them to understand and accept other children.
We parents need to let our children understand that they accept and respect their own culture. Because when they do, it would be easier for them to understand the importance of respecting other cultures, to
7. Biases are real
It helps children become more tolerant and resilient, knowing that biases and stereotypes are real. Share with them how you may have experienced having biases or stereotypes towards other people. Tell them how you may have also experienced being the subject of other people’s prejudices, too. Most importantly, let them know that most of these biases are unintentional. We can only hope that other people may control their tendencies to avoid causing conflict or isolation.
Activities and practices that help children learn about diversity
We may easily convey the lessons above to our children by talking to them. You can also expose them to various activities and practices that can help your children acknowledge, accept, and respect differences. You can start with the following:
1. Allow your child to interact with children who are different
Encourage getting to know other children with special needs or those with different ethnicities and nationalities.
2. Be a role model
Children learn best by the example you lead. Be sure you are controlling your own biases. It is also vital for your child to witness that you interact well with people who are not like you.
3. Engage in multicultural experiences
Engage in family multicultural experiences, such as various cultural festivals and religious festivities. You can also read books and watch movies or videos about different peoples and cultures. Finally, you can try dishes and drinks that are unique to other cultures to help enhance your child’s cultural intelligence.
4. Answer your child’s questions sensibly
Whenever your child asks anything related to diversity, respond honestly. Suit your answer based on your child’s age and personality to be easier for your child to understand.
5. Be observant and responsive to your child’s curiosity
Have you noticed your child staring at another child who is different? For example, your child might be staring at a girl who is wearing very thick glasses. Instead of telling your child not to stare, you can say, “the girl needs special glasses to see clearly just like us.” This gesture will make your child feel more comfortable asking questions in the future. It will also help your child understand that other children are not born the way they are.
6. Always intervene with your child’s discriminating remarks
When you hear your child making discriminatory remarks, intervene right away. Tell your child that what they are saying is unfriendly and can be hurtful to others. Help your child understand that it is important to be respectful to others despite differences.
As parents, we significantly impact what kind of people our children will grow up to be. The lessons we convey, the behaviour we show, and the discipline we instill in them can shape the very way they live their lives. In their young and fragile lives, we can make a difference by teaching our children respect, empathy, resilience, and tolerance in this diverse world.
“Treating people of all races and backgrounds honorably isn’t merely politically correct, it’s the right thing to do.” – Michelle Crouch