Teaching Your Kids about Diversity and Why It’s Important

What would you do if your child asked you any of these questions? 

Diversity is a topic that’s more important now than ever before. Teaching diversity equips children with the skills to become compassionate, empathetic, global, and understanding citizens, who impact their community and contribute to a more tolerant and harmonious world – I’m sure you agree, our world needs this!

As parents, we have a responsibility to guide and teach our children about being human -physically, emotionally, spiritually, mentally, and sexually. Discussing gender diversity is important, no matter what you believe, however, it’s just one piece of the puzzle.

I’d like to explore some of the ways that we are already talking about diversity without realising it, and can how we can effectively talk about diversity to our children in a way that’s natural, sensitive, inclusive, and empowering.

Firstly, it’s essential to understand that diversity encompasses a wide range of identities, experiences, and perspectives. Diversity includes race, ethnicity, religion, culture, gender, sexual orientation, abilities, socio-economic status, and more. By embracing diversity in all its forms, we teach our children to appreciate and respect the unique qualities that make each person special and different from others. No matter what you believe about being human, your values, attitudes, the way you act and speak is already shaping the same in your kids.

When discussing diversity with children, it’s important to choose your words carefully and approach the topic with sensitivity and openness. We can start by explaining that diversity means ‘differences’ and these differences can include things like the colour of our skin, the language we speak, the foods we eat, the traditions we celebrate, our religious beliefs, family structures, stereotypes, social gender norms, and the way we are made. By presenting diversity as a natural and positive aspect of life, and by simply stating the facts of how things are, we help our children develop a sense of curiosity and appreciation of the world around them.

One effective way to teach children about diversity is through exposure to diverse representation in books, movies, TV shows, and toys. Seek out materials that feature characters from diverse backgrounds and experiences. Bluey is a great example of this. Use these stories as a springboard for discussions about different cultures, disabilities, families, traditions, and perspectives. When children see themselves reflected in the media they consume, and when they encounter characters who are different from them, it fosters empathy, understanding, and acceptance.

Another important aspect of teaching children about diversity is modelling inclusive behaviour in our own lives. We can demonstrate respect for diversity by celebrating holidays and traditions from different cultures, making friends with people and families from diverse backgrounds, and naming discrimination and prejudice when we see or hear it. By being mindful of our language and actions, we show our children that diversity is something to be valued and embraced. Yes! Actions speak louder than words.

It’s also important to address questions and curiosity about diversity openly and honestly. Children are naturally curious, and they may ask questions about why people look different or why certain traditions are important to them. Rather than shying away from these conversations or dismissing them as taboo, we can use them as opportunities to educate our children and foster a deeper understanding and appreciation of the world around them.

Furthermore, teaching children about diversity isn’t just about tolerance—it’s about actively promoting inclusivity and equality. We can empower our children to be agents of change by teaching them about social justice, fairness, and standing up for what’s right. Encourage your children to speak out against injustice, recognise the underdog, to be allies with the marginalised, and to use their voices to advocate for a more inclusive society.

Final Words

Let’s embrace diversity together and raise a generation of compassionate, open-minded individuals who celebrate the unique differences that make us all human. Let’s face it! When we celebrate diversity, we also collaborate and solve problems better. We are all different in so many ways, and accepting one another’s differences, including values and opinions, is essential especially now as the world is becoming more polarised and volatile in so many ways.

Here are some books that encourage diversity:

The Family Book - Book review by Rowena Thomas | 'Amazing Me'

The Family Book

The Family Book is a book about diverse families, written by Todd Parr for kids aged 4 to 6.

Everyone is equal - Book review by Rowena Thomas | 'Amazing Me'

Everyone is Equal

‘Everyone is Equal’ by Jayneen Sanders introduces the notion of gender equality, diversity, acceptance, and inclusion. This book aims to educate children about the diverse range of people in the world before stereotyping can occur. It emphasises that everyone has the right to be who they are – regardless of race, gender, ability, or appearance. For kids 2-6 years.

Making a Baby - Book review by Rowena Thomas | 'Amazing Me'

Making a Baby

Many children become curious about where babies come from. This book doesn’t just answer that question – it counts the many ways that parents can have children in a gender inclusive way.

Puberty in Numbers - Book review by Rowena Thomas | 'Amazing Me'

Puberty in Numbers

‘Puberty in Numbers’ was written by Liz Flavell for kids aged 9 and above. You might wonder – what do numbers have to do with puberty? There are so many number facts about puberty and this book tells kids what they are in a fun and engaging way.

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Picture of Rowena

Rowena

The facilitator of ‘Amazing Me’, Rowena is a primary trained school teacher, with more than 30 years of experience in sexuality education and a mum of three adult children.

Rowena understands the many complexities and challenges at different stages in a child’s life when talking about tough topics like sex and puberty.

She is passionate about what she does with the goal that open and positive conversations will be started and continued, that puberty is ‘normalised’, relationships enriched and strengthened and as a result, wise choices are made in the future.