As early as age two, they begin to
notice people’s differences.
“Why does she speak funny?” “Why doesn’t he have an arm?” “Why are her eyes slanted?” “How come her skin’s dark?”
Noticing differences is a child’s way of figuring out how she’s different or the same as others. It contributes to her growing sense of self.
It doesn’t mean a child is biased.
Parents can help ensure a child doesn’t become biased. The key is to be open and positive when you talk about differences.
Make sure you:
• Never scold your child for pointing out differences.
• Always respond to your child’s questions. Not talking about differences makes them mysterious and frightening.
• Address your child’s fears. “No, people like that won’t hurt you.”
• Give simple, straightforward answers. “His mommy may sound funny to you because she speaks another language. People speak in many different languages.”
• Admit it when you don’t know something. “I’m not sure what that dot on her forehead means. I’ll try to find out for you.”
• Always correct incorrect assumptions. “Just because she can’t talk doesn’t mean she’s stupid.”
• Feel free to initiate discussions about differences. Not asking about differences doesn’t mean your child isn’t wondering about them. Look for opportunities to comment on differences and share your values.
• Watch your own behavior and language. Make sure it shows you accept and value all people.
Copyright © Parent Institute