Happy MLK Day!
Today is a great opportunity to discuss diversity and inclusion with your little ones. Starting at six months of age, children start to pick up on differences and start to have racial bias.
Toddlers already are very familiar with the concepts of fairness - just think what happens when someone else wants to play with their toy! They are also very attuned to similarities and differences; that is how they organize the world. We would hate for your child to worry that something is wrong with them if they notice differences in other people that you appear not to notice. Our society is multicultural and our differences make life interesting!
It's better to have frank discussions with your children about race and discrimination rather than act colorblind, even though these discussions can feel uncomfortable. Focus on teaching equality and inclusion for all people. Discuss with your children that people come in different shapes and sizes and colors, but that we are all the same inside, and everyone needs to be treated fairly. Beware of how to describe other people. Call people by their names; recognizing them for who they are, not their race, culture or appearance.
If you notice your child makes a comment that sounds offensive, please take this opportunity to calmly sit down and discuss it with them. Letting these comments go implies approval. Use them as opportunities for education. React and discuss calmly - your reaction will impact your child's acceptance of diversity. We want to teach our children both about promoting inclusiveness and welcoming diversity, and on the larger scale, that you welcome discussions about any topic, and you will be available to them in facing these challenging topics.
Check out the California African American Museum