In 2023, it is hard to imagine that one person treats another negatively because of skin color, eye shape, or origin. Yet, despite the spread of tolerance, stereotypes still exist. All inhabitants of the planet have the right to speak, live, and enjoy the benefits of civilization. No physical or psychological sign should be ridiculed or disrespected. No one has the moral or other right to oppress others. And we must instill all these beliefs from childhood. But how to do that? Let’s figure it out.
When to Start
Diversity and inclusion training experts say babies start noticing physical differences, including skin color, as early as six months old. In addition, research has shown that by age 5, children may show signs of racial bias, such as more favorable attitudes towards people of one racial group. Attempts to ignore or avoid discussing this problem do not protect children but, on the contrary, create the ground for perpetuating the prejudices that exist everywhere we live.
What to Say
Talking to your children about racism can be difficult. Some parents do not want their children to know about racism and discrimination. Other parents avoid such conversations because they are inexperienced or find it inconvenient to talk about.
Children Under Five
At this age, children can already notice and point out the differences in the people they see. As a parent, you can lay the foundation for their worldview delicately. Use age-appropriate language that children can understand. If you know little about the topic, we recommend taking anti racism training.
Children from 6 to 11
Children at this age talk about their feelings more quickly and are more eager to get answers to their questions. But, at the same time, they become more vulnerable to information that is difficult to process. So start by finding out what the kids know.
Children over 12
Adolescents can more clearly understand abstract concepts and express their views. They may know more than you think and feel strongly about the topic. Try to understand their feelings, find out what they already know, and continue the conversation.
How to Talk
Try to find ways to introduce your child to different cultures and different races and ethnicities. Such positive interaction with members of other racial and social groups early in a child’s life helps counter the formation of prejudice and fosters friendships between different groups. You can also take diversity equity and inclusion courses with older children.
- Introduce children to the outside world at home. Introduce children to the kitchen, read other nations’ stories, and watch their films together.
- Find out which books and films deal with racial prejudice and simultaneously look for those that portray members of different racial and ethnic groups in a positive light.
- Study the past with your children to better understand the present. Historical events such as the end of the apartheid regime in South Africa and the civil rights movement in the United States can show how people have successfully united to achieve equality and justice.
- This knowledge and sharing of experiences can help your child build trust and develop tolerance and openness to differences.
Respect for other races and people results from an upbringing in the family and being a positive example to loved ones. Be sure to take the time to talk with your child about this important and relevant topic. It will help to build a tolerant and inclusive society quickly.