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Having courageous conversations with your kiddos

As a parent, it’s natural to want to protect your child from the challenges and difficulties of the world. However, it’s important to remember that part of being a parent is also preparing your child to navigate and engage with the world in a healthy and meaningful way. 

Did you know that a baby’s brain doubles in size in the first year of life and 90% of brain development occurs before the age of 5? What children learn about the world and what your values are as a family begin at birth by what you model and expose them to. Even if little ones can’t hold a verbal conversation with you, they are still learning and taking everything in around them.

In my home, being inclusive and accepting of others starts with embracing our own identities. My Kindergarten-aged daughter loves Disney Princesses, but some of the bedding and room décor choices made me worry about the standards of beauty set by waking up to Snow White, Belle, and Ariel. I still wanted to honor her decoration preferences when we picked out her bed and toy shelves, but I also added Black girl affirmation posters on the wall and Black ballerina sheets for better representation.

Two books we like during family story time for identity, diversity, and acceptance are Love the World and I Got the Rhythm. Reading together is a fun way to increase exposure and answer questions in a safe space.

I also consider the subliminal messages about what is acceptable or “normal” when picking out my little ones’ toys. I like this boy Baby Alive doll and toy vacuum for my son to practice caretaking and engage in realistic, beneficial pretend play

It only takes small changes to create a more culturally fluent, inclusive, and acceptance-building space and routine at home. Here are some steps you can take to have courageous conversations with your kids about difficult topics and teach them to be inclusive and respectful of others: 

  • Be open and honest with your kids
  • Listen to your kids
  • Use age appropriate language
  • Don’t shy away from tough conversations
  • Be a role model
  • Talk about diversity and inclusion
  • Encourage your kids to ask questions