Teaching Kids to Respect Diversity

In our ever-changing world, learning to live with and respect others' cultures and backgrounds is an important lesson for kids to learn. And as with most potentially sticky subjects, the most successful way for kids to learn to respect diversity begins at home. How do you initiate these lessons? Do you bring up the subject with your kids, and if so, when? Or do you let kids come to you with questions? Many parents on Parent Soup feel that we need to be careful not to point out differences that our kids might not necessarily recognize, but to also have thoughtful responses ready for the day when they become inquisitive about cultural differences. Here are some more real tips from parents who've been there on the best way to raise kids to be respectful of others, no matter what color their skin is.

Children Learn By Watching You
"I have a four-year-old daughter. Her father is Hispanic and I'm white. We have always been careful of what we say in our home. We even go so far as to use big and small instead of fat and skinny. She has yet to point out or ask about people who are different than her. I plan to wait until she asks or notices herself. Apparently she doesn't see differences, she just sees people."
--Parent Soup member MyTrio2206

Look To Your Children for Clues
"We are white and I wondered how or when this subject would come up. Last year we joined a playgroup with an African-American girl. I waited for the questions from my daughter but they haven't come up yet and the two girls are now best friends. When my daughter was first getting to know her friend, she described her as the girl with black hair. Her description is wonderful as far as I'm concerned, and she came up with that on her own. In all I think if we don't make a big deal out of things they don't either."

--Parent Soup member Pnutnme93

A Meaningful Mantra
"For us, teaching our kids to respect diversity has been as simple as teaching that 'Different people from around the world have different colored skin.' We are raising our kids the same way I was raised: people are people. End of story"
--Parent Soup member Veganmommi

An Art Lesson
"As an art teacher for grades K-8, we always mixed a range of skin tones for portraits, not only so kids could choose, but to aid in the observation that all skin tones are varying shades of brown. That's what I tell my son, that we are all just different shades of brown. I don't think he even knows what a 'white' or 'black' person would look like! Mixing the paint is a great lesson. Brown is, of course, the combination of all the colors in the rainbow."
--Parent Soup member BL1456

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