Ways to foster an appreciation for diversity with your children
Cultural heritage months organically create an opportunity for us to have conversations around diversity and inclusion while celebrating the achievements of a historically marginalized people’s group. As parents, this also provides the perfect opportunity to have inclusion conversations with your children. I believe that having conversations about inclusion at an early age fosters an appreciation for diversity.
In today’s post, I am sharing why this is important for families as well as insightful conversation starters, ideas, and tips. But, before we dive into the discussion, I invite you to be open to potentially learning something new and to share your ideas in the comment section at the conclusion of this blog post. Deal? Let’s dive into today’s conversation.
Personal Significance – Raising my Kids
The world we live in is a melting pot that also offers an abundance of ways to obtain information. There’s so much being thrown at us from ads to billboards, technological advances, and so much more. I’ve learned that although we have our beliefs and guiding principles, my children can, and more than likely, will be exposed to something opposing or perhaps just different. Similarly, as African Americans, they will be, and have been exposed to the harsh realities of racial injustice. Given all the above, it is still my desire to raise well-rounded individuals who can appreciate diverse perspectives without judgment, to show love regardless, and individuals who boldly stand up for what is just.
Age-Appropriate Inclusion Conversations with Children
The types of conversations you have with your children should vary based on their age range. How I describe something to my four-year-old is slightly different than how I talk to my nine-year-old. I also have a 20-year-old and those conversations can take a total deep dive with book recommendations, videos to watch, and museums to visit.
One day, my four-year-old shared that there was “a little mean person at school”. After my initial confusion and later realizing what he was trying to say, we had a conversation about kindness and giving others the opportunity to change their behavior. I encouraged him to stand up for himself (and to tell the teacher if needed) but to show kindness regardless of how someone else behaves. For younger children, I feel that emphasizing the importance of being open to making new friends and playing with anyone regardless of how they look or their abilities is a great first step.
I also love that you can find several child-appropriate television shows and series that foster diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. Some of our favorites include Daniel Tiger and Tab Time with Tabitha Brown for younger children.
Insightful Ideas, Conversation Starters, and Tips
As we wrap up Black History Month, now would be a great time to recap what your children learned. Regardless of their age, I suspect they participated in some sort of projects, activities, or community events in honor of Black History Month. Take this as an opportunity to have a discussion and to encourage further learning.
Some additional conversation starters include having a discussion based on a scenario from something you watched on television. It can be scripted or on the fly. For example, there is a scene in a movie that highlights a diverse ability. Take some time to ask your child(ren) how it made them feel. It’s important to highlight both positive scenarios and undesirable ones to ensure balance.
One aspect that I’d be remiss to do is overcompensate. This means that I don’t want to point out everything and make “a thing” out of nothing. I hope that makes sense? My goal is to have natural free-flowing conversations that are also intentional to accomplish my goal of fostering an appreciation for diversity.
I encourage you to first embrace diversity for yourself and ensure you embody the principles you desire to teach. In my opinion, our children learn more from watching us than hearing us. For there, having the conversations we discussed is a natural way. Allow you inclusion conversations to evolve and grow from there.
Now, it’s your turn. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
You can also checkout Ways to Honor Black History Month at Work – Career Mom Community for insights on how to have inclusion conversations in your workplace.