Children today are growing up in a multicultural world. They are constantly being exposed to different religions, ethnicities, and ways of living. Your child’s success ultimately depends on their ability to live and work beside people who are different from them. This is only one example of why it is important to encourage your children to embrace diversity. Another, of course, is to end the cycle of hatred that results from stereotypes and prejudices. Because so much of a child’s success can be positively affected by their acceptance of others, the National Association of the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) has made it a sub-theme for their annual Week of the Young Child celebration.
Talking openly with children about diversity is key to helping them develop an appreciation for other cultures, races, and religions. Any question your child may have on the subject should be seen as a teachable moment.
As adults, we should make sure to respond to any racist or prejudice comments made in front of children immediately. Children won’t necessarily understand that a comment or joke is hurtful; they will only recognize the reaction that it produces. Prejudice is a learned behavior that is often passed down from parent to child and can then be shared within that child’s peer groups. Stop the hate before it starts by explaining that stereotypes and negative comments are hurtful.
Teaching children about their own culture can also help them understand that differences make people unique and shouldn’t be looked down upon. Encouraging kids to embrace your family’s cultural traditions can help them develop a respect other traditions, religions, etc.
Children who live, play, and go to school in communities that are primarily occupied by their own race or culture lack exposure to different kinds of people. This is why it’s important to introduce your children to new cultures and ideas through books, music, or films if you are unable to explore areas that are more culturally diverse. Exposing your child to role models who are different from them is also a great way to teach acceptance because it shows children that their heroes can come in all forms.
We are raising our children in a very progressive time. Teaching them to embrace diversity goes beyond doing what is morally right; it has become crucial to their success. Encourage your children to understand that though we may look different from one another, we are all human beings who deserve equal treatment and equal access to opportunities.