Imagine this: your child is sitting in their desk in their preschool classroom. In the desk to the right is a transgender child who other students frequently make fun of. Does your kid makes friends with this child?
Imagine this: your child just got their lunch and is deciding where to sit. There is a table of well-liked kids who are known for making other kids laugh, sometimes by picking on someone. (It’s the early version of the “cool kid” table.) There are several other tables with groups of basically nice kids, but most laugh at the “cool kids’” jokes. There is a girl sitting by herself. She’s the fastest runner in class, likes to play with trucks, and mostly gets excluded from friend groups. Where does your child sit?
Or, imagine this: there is a new student in class who surprises most by dressing outside of expectations. Perhaps they are a boy who wears nail polish or wears purple. The other students don’t know how to react so they mostly ignore him. What does your child do?
We all have idealistic ideas of our kids but the truth is most kids are silent when they witness bullying. Most avoid associating with bullied kids for fear they will get bullied themselves. And most will choose a table at lunch with a group of kids they generally play with. Most will also follow suit by ignoring or excluding kids who don’t conform to gender expectations.
The good news is that you can start preparing your kid for situations like these now. Check out my guest blog post at Barefoot Mommy where I give tips and ideas for teaching gender diversity to toddlers through play, storytimes, songs, and community events.
Really, all you got to do is pick your favorite way of engaging with your toddler and there is an easy, natural, fun way to introduce gender diversity. Fun is the best approach to helping toddlers grow into open-hearted, open-minded, and inclusive natured older kids. Everytime you engage in this way you are building a strong foundation for conversations you’ll later have.
What is your favorite way to engage and have fun with your toddler?