Teaching Children About Diversity


Barbara Prupas, PsyD., MFT, Licensed Psychologist, Behavioral Health, Child and Family Center

diversityThe Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday (recognized Monday, Jan. 16) is a great opportunity to continuing talking about diversity with your child.

Our children are inheriting a country with much greater diversity than their parents ever experienced. Our job as parents is to prepare our children to be open-minded and accepting of other’s differences so they can work together and become responsible and respectful adults. By addressing diversity, racism and prejudice we are helping children recognize the humanity in all of us.

Take time to observe your surroundings. Diversity is everywhere. Families have become more varied. Households today include single parents, grandparents and blended families. Teaching children about diversity is teaching them to appreciate the uniqueness in themselves and in others.  It is an opportunity to observe the similarities as well as the differences in us all.

Here are some ways parents can help children to value tolerance and acceptance:

  • Teach your child about their ancestors’ culture and heritage so they may gain a sense of pride.
  • Be aware of your own prejudices and attitudes.
  • Speak up against biased views and jokes that perpetuate stereotypes.  Children learn by example.
  • Realize that bilingualism is an asset not a deficit.
  • Get out of your comfort zone. Expose your child to people of different cultures, ages and disabilities.
  • Children are naturally curious. Do not censure their observations. Do not pretend that differences do not exist.
  • Expose children to a variety of books and toys that teach diversity.
  • Teach children that prejudices often stem from a lack of information or from a lack of exposure to people who are different from themselves.