Teaching Your Kids About Diversity and Inclusion

Diversity and Inclusion - Raising Your Children to be Accepting

We live in an increasingly diverse world, which is a truly wonderful thing. Your children will encounter people of different races, cultures, and abilities. They’ll make friends with children from different familial structures.

Teaching your children about diversity and inclusion is so important — we all want to raise tolerant, accepting, and empathetic kids. So, here’s how to harness the power of your child’s young, open mind.

 

Begin teaching acceptance at a young age

The best time to begin teaching your child about accepting differences is when they begin noticing differences:

Up to 3 years old: Toddlers will notice differences in skin color and appearance, including the names for these things. They don’t yet assign meaning to those names and labels.

4 to 6 years old: Kids will begin to identify their own race or ethnicity. They may assign a positive or negative connotation to that label.

7 to 11 years old: The understanding your child has about him or herself in regards to that identity will deepen.

As they begin to recognize differences, emphasize that those things aren’t wrong, just different. Explain that differences lead to diversity, and that diversity makes the world an interesting and special place.

 

Teaching your young child about diversity

Teaching your young child about diversity and inclusion has a simple start: monitor your own behaviors and your environment. Think about how you approach diversity, acceptance, and inclusion yourself (and get brutally honest). This includes acceptance of different opinions and viewpoints.

On the environmental side, think about these questions:

  • How often does your child see people with different skin colors/abilities/cultures/etc.?

  • If it doesn’t happen often in your neighborhood, how can you change that?

  • Is your child comfortable with new things in general, like new foods or visiting new places?

If your environment is lacking in diversity, go out and find some! Visit neighboring towns. Try a new restaurant with food from another country. As a family, volunteer with an organization that helps people of different means and abilities.

Finally, encourage your children to honor others. Emphasize open-mindedness toward anyone who looks and thinks differently than they do. Explain that there are people all over the world with different lifestyles, cultures, and beliefs, and that that’s something to be celebrated.

 

Books and activities about diversity and inclusion

Books and games are very useful teaching tools for kids, so don’t hesitate to use them. You can read the books together and have a conversation afterwards, which will be especially impactful if you’re making diversity and acceptance a theme in daily life.

11 Children's Books That Teach Inclusion

7 Books That Teach Kids About Diversity

Classroom Activities from Teaching Tolerance

We are different, we are the same: Teaching young children about diversity

One final reminder: it’s tempting to try to be completely politically correct when talking about diversity. You cannot raise a “difference blind” child — they’re naturally curious about the world around them. When you help your child understand these differences they’ll be one step closer to appreciating them.