Children are naturally curious about their peers' physical differences.
If your goal is to raise a colorblind child, it’s time to revise the game plan. From the day they are born, infants can distinguish differences in accents and facial features, and they even display a preference for their own culture. Because the brain is hardwired to be racially conscious, children are naturally curious about other children’s skin color, hair texture, eye shape and clothing. Use these tools to teach your child how to feel proud of their ethnicity.
1The best way to raise a confident child is to teach them how to properly respond to the inevitable questions their peers will have about their culture or appearance. Use puppets or a favorite doll to teach your child how to respond to common comments encountered on the playground. You can also discuss differences within your own family, such as how Grandma has blond hair and blue eyes and Daddy has brown hair and green eyes. Help your child create a picture book of all the diverse faces within your own family so that they can understand that physical appearances do not influence how much you love each other. The journey into your family history will also provide a cultural identity that your child can be proud to own.
2As early as 2 years old, your toddler might begin asking questions about physical appearances. While it is difficult to not get embarrassed by bold statements uttered in the checkout line, know that these questions are merely observations, not judgments. Capitalize on this opportunity by talking to your child about different cultures and why they must be sensitive toward other children. Preschoolers also love to play with words they know are naughty. Create house rules that bar words such as stupid and hate, and teach your child different words to replace the hurtful ones. It is crucial that you are mindful of your own words and responses to ethnic jokes because little ears are listening at all times.
3When your child is confident in who she is, then they will be comfortable around people who don't look like them. You must give your child responsibility -- something they can be proud of -- and always compliment your child’s talents and accomplishments, even if they do create the ugliest clay vase you have ever seen.Most importantly, say "I love you" every day and name one reason why. It might seem like such a small thing, but as long as your child knows that someone in the world loves them unconditionally, then they will have the courage to believe in themselves.
4Children need role models outside the home in order to feel pride in their culture. Sesame Street provides an excellent introduction to a host of multicultural friends while ethnic characters who are the stars of their own shows, such as Dora, Diego and Doc McStuffins, are hits with young girls and boys.Crayola offers an eight-pack of multicultural crayons that provides “an assortment of skin hues to give a child a realistic palette for coloring their world.” Best of all, these diverse crayons are oversized for easy gripping by tiny fingers.You will also want to browse through the extensive selection of multicultural titles published by Lee & Low Books. The winner of a host of awards, this children’s book publishing company has produced more than 650 beautifully illustrated stories that celebrate the diversity of the world.