No one immediately begins stereotyping certain races or genders once they are born. Children learn these stereotypes from the people they’re surrounded by, especially their parents. A parent is a child’s most influential teacher, and if a parent is open-minded and willing to accept others regardless of differences, then their children will learn that too. I remember my mom telling me to make friends with everyone even if they look different from me the day before my first day of kindergarten. I think that all parents should tell their children this and enforce that it is okay if you look different from others around you. Additionally, it is important for schools to teach students the importance of diversity. For example, I remember in elementary school, everyone would consider the light peach crayon as the “skin color crayon.” When I was young, I remember questioning why only the peach was used for skin and not any of the tan or brown crayons. Little things like these are what cause young children to start stereotyping different races.
I think as time goes on, our society is doing a good job to educate children about diversity. For instance, I’ve noticed that many toy stores now have a diverse selection of dolls. When I was younger, most of the dolls I could choose from had light skin and light-colored hair. However, more and more dolls are representing all different skin colors and genders. For instance, American Girl Dolls have their Look Like Me collection, which has a variety of different dolls. As a kid, I loved being able to go to the American Girl Doll store and see dolls that had the same skin color and hair texture as me. This is very important for a child to feel like they belong and aren’t seen as different from the rest of society.
Overall, the best way to educate young children about diversity is to keep repeating to them the importance of acceptance. By doing so, hopefully they not only learn not to stereotype people, but also learn to accept their differences as well.