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How to Teach Diversity to Young Children

by Ivy B

A while back, I wrote about the problem with mommy wars.  From my perspective, I feel like mommy wars, and all the other diversity issues we’re experiencing, are caused by the inability of others to accept and celebrate our differences.  How can we teach diversity to young children if we can’t accept it in adulthood?

We all are different and we all want to be heard.  But, it seems many of us struggle to listen to others.

Think about the last disagreement you had, whether or not it was about parenting differences.  Anything.  Did something someone say touch a nerve?  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen arguments online where one person states an opinion and someone else bashes them for it.  You know you’ve seen those lengthy Facebook “conversations.”  Maybe you found yourself part of them.

Can you think back to an instance where you read or heard something that stirred an emotional response?  Did it cloud your judgment and make you respond hastily?  And, you probably didn’t even take a moment to consider your words.  You probably didn’t even really take a minute to think about what was said in the first place.

Teaching diversity to small children doesn't have to be difficult. These 3 tips will help you teach your children about differences.
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How to Teach Diversity to Young Children

Be a Good Role Model

Show your children that you accept others for their differences.  Accept and celebrate that no one will do or say the same things as you.  Also, accept your own differences.  It’s okay to speak about your differences, but don’t shut others down when they’re different.

Stick to Facts

Keep emotions or opinions out of conversations when you’re explaining differences to your children.  Discussing with your kids about cultural, family, or individual differences should be factual, not emotional.

Remove bias from your conversations as much as possible.

Remember, prejudice and bias has no business in a young child’s life as they’re learning to navigate the world and all its rules.  Let your children ask questions openly and respond in a way that allows them to form their own opinions of the world.

Teach diversity to young children with the book "Otis Grows"

Read Together

Children learn a lot through reading, so teaching diversity can be made easier through books.  The best part is, it’s not a structured lesson, so you’re more likely to engage your child in conversation naturally through books.

Reading "Otis Grows" to teach diversity to my young child

*Disclaimer: I received Otis Grows in exchange for this post.  No other compensation was received.  Affiliate links are included. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Try starting with Otis Grows by Kathryn Hast.

Otis is the son of a Yes-Chum and a Nuh-Uh.  His parents live on opposite sides of a creek and have strongly opposing viewpoints.  Poor Otis is stuck in the middle, trying to grow and become whoever he’s supposed to be.  Both parents tell him how to grow while he struggles to decide which of his parents to listen to.  He sees value in the advice he receives from each of them.  But, neither seems to apply fully because he’s a combination of both of them.

When Otis runs away from his family to get away from the arguments, he’s exposed to a larger variety of differences than he’s ever known.  He eventually finds his own path and grows up to make both parents proud.

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Not only does Kathryn’s book touch on diversity, it serves as a reminder that our actions as parents affect our children.  Our open judgment can cause unnecessary stress in our children’s lives.  They will become their own person and we’ll be proud of them, regardless.

You may find that more gentle approaches to be most effective to teach diversity to young children.  Being a good role model and resisting the urge to express your own biases or prejudices are good ways to help your children accept others for their differences.

Check out these activities to teach and discuss diversity further with your kids from Bee Haven Tribe.

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McKenzie October 5, 2017 - 10:34 am

This can be a really difficult task, so thank you for sharing this. Teaching and sharing about diversity is a must for children because things they learn and appreciate young will stick with them.

Abby October 26, 2017 - 12:40 pm

Teaching children the facts and reading to them are important to teach them about diversity. It is not always easy. Thanks for sharing this very informative and important post!

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