Talking about diversity with our children

Each week we publish an article that focuses on different aspect of Positive Parenting. Articles are contributed by members of Parenting Limerick, a network of agencies working with parents and families in Limerick city and county.

In the last few weeks, Black Lives Matter protests all around the world have dominated the news. If you are wondering how to talk to your child about diversity awareness, here are some useful suggestions.

Open up the conversation. As parents, we sometimes think our children are too young to grasp cultural differences. But children notice different skin tones, different types of hair and clothing, and languages other than their own. Take the initiative and talk about these things with your child. Explain that each and every one of us is unique: we can look differently, behave in different ways and believe in different things.  Discuss the importance of mutual respect, and how our differences help us all learn from one another.

Take advantage of available resources: books, toys, cartoons and music. Books that reflect the diverse communities we live in are particularly great. Diverse fictional characters or toys (such as dolls) normalise cultural and race differences. Support your children in associating their heroes and dolls with a variety of cultural identities. For example, you can point out things like, ‘Who says princesses can’t have Afro hair?’

Have a conversation about injustice. You might want to explain that people are not always treated the same, and sometimes that has to do with how we look, how we speak, or how we dress. By highlighting examples of situations that are ‘fair’ or ‘unfair,’ we encourage better understanding of cultural and racial injustice. Discuss with your child how they might feel if they were on the receiving end. This will nurture feelings of empathy.  

Having a diverse group of friends is important, but it does not always happen organically. You might try to find activities where children can engage with a range of nationalities and cultures. Celebrate different cultures and traditions and enjoy new cuisines with your children. To encourage the positive behaviour, lead by example! Parents are the best teachers for their children.  

Top Tips

Be proactive and open the conversation
It’s never too early to introduce concepts of diversity and inclusion
Use simple and age appropriate language
Personalise your explanation, use identifiable examples
Talk about fairness and point out stereotypes
Consider feelings and nurture empathy
Introduce multicultural resources such as books, films, music, cartoons
Expose your children to different cuisines, authors, actors, artists, musicians
Walk the talk – live by example

The following books are available to parents:

It’s ok to be different by Sharon Purtill
Everywhere babies by Susan Meyers
The skin you live in by Michael Tyler
The colours of us by Karen Katz
Let’s talk about race by Julius Lester

Google these two titles to access them online:

Raising little allies to be by Lucy Song. Wander & Wonder Studio
A parent’s guide to Black Lives Matter by Pryer et al. Yoopies

Finally, some website that may be helpful to parents

This article was contributed by a member of Parenting Limerick. Parenting Limerick is a network of parenting and family support organisations. For more information on this and other topics go to