Teaching Children about Respecting Differences

Our world is constantly changing, and, as it becomes more diverse and interconnected, children need to understand that all people are unique; they have varying abilities, beliefs, and traditions; and they are important as individuals. Children begin to notice differences in their toddler years. As children grow into adults, they will encounter diversity in every aspect of their lives.

Here are some tips to help parents teach children about diversity, model appropriate responses to differences and similarities among peers, and help create a positive perspective on others.

Celebrate differences!

Have open discussions with your child to help him or her understand and respect the differences among all people and also mention the similarities people share. It is natural for your child to notices differences, use this as an opportunity to start a conversation and provide an age-appropriate explanation. If you do not have an answer immediately, tell your child you will think about his or her question and respond soon. If you realize later a response you provided may be biased, tell your child you are also learning to be more inclusive.

Create diversity in your own environment.

Not everyone lives in an area that is culturally diverse. But, as a parent, you can create a diverse environment through play and learning. For example, teach your child basic sign language and arrange play dates with people who are different from you.  In addition, children’s books are available that represent a variety of ethnicities and cultures, and they embrace differences and promote acceptance. Visit this website for some books that discuss diversity https://www.pbs.org/parents/thrive/childrens-books-about-race-and-diversity

Teach your children about empathy.

You can teach your children about empathy by modeling empathetic or compassionate behavior.  For example, volunteer at a soup kitchen or collect dog or cat food to stock an animal shelter. Caring for animals and plants can teach children how to care for or help another living thing grow and thrive.  When your child is excited or upset or experiences a strong emotion, name and discuss those different feelings. Help him or her understand that others have these feelings too and try to consider how others may feel in a similar situation. Use playtime to teach empathy. For example, as a fun game, tape emoticons (which are used in everyday texting and posting) on the wall and ask your child to demonstrate those feelings and what kinds of thing may make him or her feel that way.

Unlearn your own biases.

We are currently living in an era of acceptance and celebrating diversity can create confusion for some individuals if they have lived in a culture flooded with or experienced years of negative imagery and discrimination.  Help yourself! Explore diversity and learn as much as you can about differences. Parents can look inward to see where their own bias may lie. Harvard scientists have developed, Project Implicit, which provides quizzes and tools for you to examine your own personal biases. Project implicit tasks and tools can be found here https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/featuredtask.html

Keep the conversation going!

Discuss ways you can talk about diversity with your child by expanding the conversation by including friends and family. Join the pursuit of celebrating differences through solidarity by recognizing and attending events in your community that promote unity.  Attend an arts festival, visit nearby cultural centers, tour museums, or explore different foods from around the world.

Additional Resources

We are different, we are the same: Teaching Young Children about Diversity.

https://extension.psu.edu/programs/betterkidcare/knowledge-areas/environment-curriculum/activities/all-activities/we-are-different-we-are-the-same-teaching-young-children-about-diversity

How to Teach Children about Cultural Awareness and Diversity.

https://www.pbs.org/parents/thrive/how-to-teach-children-about-cultural-awareness-and-diversity

How to Talk to Kids about Tolerance, Acceptance and Diversity.

https://thrive.psu.edu/blog/page/2/

References

de Novais, J. & Spencer, G. (2018). Learning race to unlearn racism: The effects of ethnic studies course-taking. The Journal of Higher Education, 90(6), 860-883. https://doi.org/10.1080/00221546.2018.1545498

Krieger, N., Carney, D., Lancaster, K., Waterman, P. D., Kosheleva, A., & Banaji, M. (2010). Combining explicit and implicit measures of racial discrimination in health research. American Journal of Public Health, 100(8), 1485–1492. https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2009.159517

Warren, C. A. (2014). Towards a pedagogy for the application of empathy in culturally diverse classrooms. The Urban Review, 46(3), 395-419. doi:http://dx.doi.org.ezaccess.libraries.psu.edu/10.1007/s11256-013-0262-5

Managing Screen Time During COVID-19

As a result of COVID-19, the use of electronic devices for learning, connecting, and recreating has increased greatly. With this increase, families may be concerned about how much screen time is too much screen time for their children. Keep it simple. Remember, screen time management during COVID-19 is more about quality and less about quantity.

As we navigate our new normal, guidelines exist to offer direction for all aspects of our lives, including recommendations for screen time management. These parameters highlight the importance of quality over quantity. Screens can be used for nearly every daily task, and the COVID-19 pandemic has intensified that use. We are faced with a new reality where most of what we do, and what our children do, involves some kind of screen time.

Consider how much of what you do involves screen time now versus before the pandemic. You are able to purchase necessary items, like food, cleaning supplies, and clothing, online; communicate with friends and family through video chats; and attend a virtual tele-health visit with medical providers. While screen time use was expected to increase and has escalated during the pandemic, it is the way in which screen time is used that matters the most. For children, low-quality screen time or recreational screen time should still be limited. Below are some tips to help ensure quality screen time use even though the quantity has increased.

Quality versus Quantity tips during COVID-19 

Not all screen time use is equal.

Quality screen time includes video calling to connect with friends and family. If the screen time is spent doing activities that would have been done in person before COVID-19, then the activity does not count as recreational screen time. Playing video games without educational content is an example of recreational screen time with low quality.

Incorporate physical activity.

Engaging in physical activity is very important and can be incorporated into quality screen time through the use of specific apps. Many apps are free and available for children to use to increase their activity levels.

Create personal space.

Use screen time to create personal space in your home. You may have taken on the roles of school teacher, child care worker, full-time employee, and homemaker – at the same time. Let your child watch a favorite movie if you are busy with work or other activities in which your child cannot participate. Just remember to aim for 2 hours or less a day of low-quality recreational screen time.

Plan ahead.

Find apps, games, and videos that your child can safely do by himself or herself. Add these to your daily routine. Think of educational screen time as a new platform for learning.

Safety first.

Manage your children’s safety settings and parental permissions. Keep all devices centrally located to keep track of use. Have children return devices to the central location after they are finished with their activity.

Develop a family media plan.

Create a family media plan to ensure quality over quantity. Visit HealthyChildren.org to create a customized online family media plan (Spanish option available).

Additional Resources

Clearinghouse for Military Family Readiness at Penn State. (2020). Tips for working at home with kidshttps://thrive.psu.edu/blog/tips-for-working-at-home-with-kids/

Unicef Kid Power. (2020). Best apps for keeping kids active. https://www.unicefkidpower.org/best-apps-for-keeping-kids-active/

References

American Academy of Pediatrics. (2020, April 20). Parenting during the Covid-19 Pandemic: Advice from psychologists on the best ways to cope with the new way of life—and the new stressors—caused by the global health crisis. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/topics/covid-19/parenting-during-pandemic

Nagata, J., Abdel Magid, H., & Gabriel, K. (Accepted/In Press). Screen time for children and adolescents during the COVID‐19 pandemic. Obesity. https://doi.org/10.1002/oby.22917

Promoting Healthy Behaviors to Reduce the Spread of COVID-19

As we continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, parents and families should remain diligent in modeling and promoting healthy behaviors that reduce the spread of COVID-19. Currently, a vaccine is not available to help minimize and prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Fortunately, there are several strategies, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2020), that you can implement within your family system that may reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Know How it Spreads

SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, spreads from person to person through respiratory droplets that are produced and distributed when an infected person talks, coughs, or sneezes within close proximity to other people (about six feet). These infected droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby and may be inhaled into these people’s lungs. Recent studies suggest that some people may spread the virus even though they may not experience symptoms. If you do not have symptoms but still carry the virus, you would be known as an asymptomatic carrier.

Stay Home When Appropriate

Limiting close face-to-face contact with people outside of your household is a good way to prevent exposure to and reduce the spread of COVID-19. When appropriate, stay at home with members of your household. Even if you are at home, you can still enjoy outdoor spaces around your home or neighborhood but be sure to continue to practice physical distancing with people who are not in your household.  Physical distancing, or social distancing, is the practice of maintaining six feet between all individuals.

Avoid Close Contact

When inside your home, avoid close contact with people who are sick, and, if possible, maintain six feet between the person who is sick and other household members.

Before deciding to go out in public, you should consider the level of risk for yourself and your family members and ensure you take appropriate protective measures. When outside of your home, limit your interactions with other people as much as possible and maintain six feet of distance (indoors and outdoors) between yourself and people who do not live in your household. Keeping distance from others is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick (e.g., older adults; people with underlying medical conditions like weakened immune system, Type 2 diabetes, chronic kidney disease). Generally speaking, your risk of getting and spreading COVID-19 increases depending on the more people you come in contact with, the more closely you interact with them, and the longer that interaction lasts.

Hand Hygiene and Respiratory Etiquette

Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water throughout the day, especially after being in a public place, blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. It is also important to wash your hands before touching your face, before preparing food, after using the restroom, after handling your cloth face covering, after changing a diaper, after caring for someone who is sick, and after touching animals or pets. If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

Always cover your mouth and nose – either with a tissue or inside your elbow – when you cough or sneeze, and, then, immediately throw used tissues in the trash and wash your hands (or use hand sanitizer).

Cloth Face Coverings

Cloth face coverings have been found to be a “simple, economic and sustainable alternative to surgical masks as a means of source control of SARS-CoV-2 in the general community” (Esposito, Principi, Leung, & Migliori, 2020, p. 1) and could be beneficial particularly where transmission may be pre-symptomatic (MacIntyre & Chughtai, 2020).

Everyone should wear a cloth face covering in public settings and when around people who do not live in your household, especially when physical distancing is difficult to maintain. When wearing the cloth face covering, continue to keep six feet of physical distance between yourself and others. Children, under the age of 2, should not wear cloth face coverings. In addition, anyone who has trouble breathing or is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance should not wear a cloth face covering.

Cleaning and Disinfection

Clean and disinfect frequently touched services, such as tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks, with a household disinfectant on a daily basis.

Monitor Your Family Members Health Daily

Monitor yourself and family members to watch for symptoms of COVID-19 especially if you are running errands, going into an office or workplace, or visiting settings where it may be difficult to keep a physical distance of six feet. Common symptoms include fever, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea. If you or members of your family do begin to experience symptoms, contact your primary care physician. Remember – most people experience a mild form of the illness and are able to recover at home. However, if someone is experiencing distress (e.g., trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion, inability to wake or stay awake, bluish lips or face), get emergency medical care immediately.

References

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, July 7). Considerations for events and gatherings. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/large-events/considerations-for-events-gatherings.html

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, June 25). People of any age with underlying medical conditions. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/people-with-medical-conditions.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fcoronavirus%2F2019-ncov%2Fneed-extra-precautions%2Fgroups-at-higher-risk.html

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, May 13). Symptoms of Coronavirus. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, April 24). How to protect yourself & others. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/prevention.html

Esposito, S., Principi, N., Eung, C. C., & Migliori, G. B. (2020). Universal use of face masks or success against COVID-19: Evidence and implications for prevention policies. European Respiratory Journal, 55(6), 2001260. doi: 10.1183/13993003.01260-2020

MacIntyre, C. R., & Chughtai, A. A., (2020). A rapid systematic review of the efficacy of face masks and respirators against coronaviruses and other respiratory transmissible viruses for the community, healthcare workers and sick patients. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 108, 103629.