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Teaching Young Children About Bias, Diversity, and Social Justice

We've somehow decided that little kids can't understand these complex topics, or we want to delay exposing them to injustices as long as possible (even though not all children have the luxury of being shielded from injustice).

However, young children have a keen awareness of and passion for fairness. They demand right over wrong, just over unjust. And they notice differences without apology or discomfort.

Racial identity and attitudes begin to develop in children at a young age. Two- and three-year-olds become aware of the differences between boys and girls, may begin noticing obvious physical disabilities, become curious about skin color and hair color/texture, and may also be aware of ethnic identity.

5 Elementary Strategies

1. Use children's literature: There's a wealth of children's books (check out here: http://www.adl.org/education-outreach/books-matter/#.VwQW3_krLcs) that can be read aloud and independently to approach the topic of bias, diversity, and social justice.

2. Use the news media: Find topics and news stories that bring forth these themes and discuss them in the classroom -- like the nine-year-old boy who was banned from bringing his My Little Pony backpack to school because it was the source of bullying.

3. Teach anti-bias lessons: Social and emotional skill development lessons are the foundation, and then teachers can move to lessons on identity, differences, bias, and how bias and bullying can be addressed individually and institutionally.

4. Give familiar examples.
Take advantage of children's interest in books, TV shows, toys, and video games, and use them as opportunities to explore diversity, bias, and social justice.

5. Explore solutions: Re-think the concept of "helping others" to include discussions about the inequities that contribute to the problem and consider actions that can address it. For example, while it's useful to provide food to homeless people, we want to deepen the conversation to convey a social justice perspective and a wider lens with children. Therefore, discuss the stigma and stereotypes of homeless people, learn about unfair housing policies, and reflect on solutions that will reverse the problem in a lasting way and encourage students to take action.

10 Things NOT to Say to the Breastfeeding Mom of a Toddler

People have a lot of opinions about breastfeeding in general, but they have even more to say about extended breastfeeding. Nevermind that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends nursing throughout a baby's first year (and for as long afterward as both the mother and child want to continue) or that the World Health Organization suggests breastfeeding for at least two years—to some onlookers (including friends and family), nursing a toddler is just plain weird.

Managing Your Own Emotions: The Key to Positive, Effective Parenting

Parenting young children (really children of any age) is an intensely emotional experience. There is the pure pleasure of cuddling, playing, laughing, exploring, and delighting in your baby’s daily growth and discoveries. And then there are the challenges—the moments of stress, anger, frustration, and resentment—at not knowing what a baby’s cry means and how to calm her, at the totally irrational demands of a toddler, or at the aggressive behavior of an older child toward a new baby...

How to Deal With the Never Ending Questions from Your Kids

We all know that children are naturally inquisitive. We also know their inquiry sometimes manifests itself in annoying ways or at inopportune times, “Are we there yet?” or “Is that lady having a baby?” being among the most common examples.

Our culture inundates us with examples of parents losing their cool with inquiring youngsters, from Al Bundy to Homer Simpson. In malls and grocery stores across the country, mothers and fathers are telling their little ones to stop asking, be quiet, or shut up.

Why I’m Not Accepting Your 9-Year-Old’s Friend Request

Recently, I had a conversation with a friend in which she divulged to me that her 10-year-old son has an Instagram account. Because she and I usually see eye to eye on most parenting decisions, I was surprised. When I asked her about it, she explained that, for her son, she has rules and privacy settings in place to protect him. She told me she’s had conversations about appropriate photos and internet safety. She said she trusts him and wants him to develop good judgment online.