Children see and interact with people of different races or ethnic backgrounds every day—around the neighborhood, while grocery shopping, at school, or in the media. Research shows that children as young as 3 identify gender and ethnic differences. You can help children develop cultural awareness, appreciate the cultural traditions of others, and build positive attitudes in many ways, including the following:
- Talk about differences among people in a positive way to help children appreciate the special qualities of all people.
- Talk about the similarities among people to help your child understand that all of us are more alike than different.
- If you are with your child and hear someone say something ugly about a person or a group of people, let your child know that this is unkind and hurts others.
- If you hear your child say something that reflects prejudice, guide him or her to see that the words are hurtful and unacceptable.
- Create opportunities for your child to meet and play with children of different races or ethnicities, socioeconomic backgrounds, family structures, etc.
- Help children understand that we are not all the same and we should always show respect for our differences.
- “Culture Commotion” from PBS uses books and music to share stories about children in other cultures.
- “Celebrating Cultural Diversity Through Children’s Literature” provides annotated bibliographies for a wealth of books about children in other cultures.
- “Playing Smart: Cultural Diversity for Kids” from Parenthood.com provides activities to help children appreciate music, foods, holidays, and games from other cultures.
- “YMCA Parent Tips: Learning To Live Together—Children and Cultural Diversity” from the YMCA provides information and activities to promote cultural appreciation.
Reprinted with the permission of the Department of Health and Human Services.