Talking to children about diversity:
Onset of formal education
Six-to 8-year-olds continue to recognize group
members and begin to realize that their ethnicity is not changeable.
They begin to become aware of history, local actions, and attitudes
for and against racial, religious, and cultural groups. Moreover,
they are highly influenced by what they see around them. Significant
adults in their lives, peers, and the media become an even greater
influence. Cultural pride may also begin to develop at this age.
As parents, we can take advantage of these stages to form positive
feelings about a child's own culture. The child who feels best about
himself or herself is least likely to feel the need to hate others.
And, we can continue to ensure that our children are exposed to
consistent messages-in the classroom, at church or synagogue, as
well as at our dinner tables.
Nine- to 12-year-olds gain a greater understanding
of the geographic and historical aspects of culture. Some may be
moving into more abstract thinking. They become more aware of the
attitudes and behaviors of persons of power within institutional
settings. They also begin to get a clear understanding of the personal
and family struggles against bias that may exist and are more willing
to discuss culture, race, and differences. Most 9- to 12year-olds
- Understand racial and cultural stereotypes
- Speak from dominant and nondominant perspectives
- Practice stating the strengths and positive
aspects of various cultures
- Discuss how internalizing a negative view
about a child's own racial, ethnic, or cultural group may affect
a child's confidence.
Next: Hate hurts