The Importance of Teaching Children Diversity Early on

NOT only adults, children often interpret beauty as white skin, tall body, to long straight hair. While boys also interpret cool figures such as the heroes in Hollywood movies, namely white, tall, and stocky figures. This understanding cannot in fact be underestimated. Because in the future it could lead to potential racist attitudes. Children can be less appreciative of people who don’t have that kind of physique. In fact, it is more ironic, when children can look down on themselves for not being white, tall, and slim. To avoid such racist attitudes, respect for physical and racial diversity must be taught early on. That means from the age of 3, according to the results of the experts’ research.

“They learn, interact, grow, and build their understanding of their world through the game. They learn about social and family relationships through games, including how to connect and interact with others,” Dr Lockhart said.

When pushing diversity through games, parents and caregivers can explore activities and provide toys that help children recognize differences and embrace similarities, and tell them that diverse colors are normal. You can collect dolls from different spectrums of colors, helping children create self-concepts that recognize differences. “When children see themselves represented in their toys, books, movies, music, food, and artwork, it shapes their concept of themselves,” Dr Lockhart said.

Melissa Jean-Charles, founder, and chief executive of Healthy Roots Dolls, said she created her doll company to represent today’s children. He said it was inspired by the 1940s Doll Test by psychologists Kenneth B and Mamie P Clark. The researchers showed identical dolls, except for their skin color, to 253 black children aged between three and seven to test children’s racial perception. “They found that the majority of children associate positive characteristics with white dolls and negative characteristics in black dolls. This discovery shows how black children feel inferior and lose their self-esteem during times of segregation, prejudice, and discrimination,” Jean-Charles said.

With his toy company, Jean-Charles has normalized black dolls. Jean-Charles says that between 20 and 40 percent of its customers are non-black parents with children of color who specifically buy their dolls to discuss diversity with their children or to have dolls that represent their children in hair patterns and textures. In addition to dolls, parents can also include diversity in games such as Lego, painting, dancing, and role-playing. Dr. Lockhart says that through the game, children can experiment with their view of the world, then dismantle that world, build a new world, and try it again. Other studies suggest reading books that focus on diversity or play games at home. It allows children to put themselves in someone else’s position and exercise empathy as well. Role-playing can help create a safe space for child-led conversations, and they feel comfortable asking questions and exploring topics about race and culture. “To create a space for children to have conversations about race and diversity, parents also have to accept differences, so that they can discuss quite comfortably on any topic that a child asks,” said Kira Hudson Banks, a psychologist, and educator for more than 20 years. (M-1)