The playground

My daughter was building her own character on an online game. We'd selected character hair colour (blonde), and when asked what skin colour she’d like, she replied ‘Just normal!’ It was a great opportunity to challenge her assumptions about what ‘normal’ is. Mother of Maeve, aged 4, Coburg, 2010

Children say funny things that can leave us both amused and embarrassed! For children, life is a series of discoveries and questions.

The way we see the world depends on the people around us as we’re growing up. Noticing differences in skin, hair, clothes, voices and names is part of each child working out who they are and where they fit. Being left out can feel like the worst thing in the world to a child. To be the last one picked. To not be invited to the birthday party. 

The lessons we learn early about what it means to be different can be hard to shake. Where does it all begin — at home or in the playground?

Talking about difference with children: a few tips

Be prepared to discuss it anytime because stereotypes are everywhere.

Focus on empathy and find ways to understand other perspectives.

Make it about the child and how they would want to be treated.

Expand their horizons about what is 'normal' and what is 'different'.

Be a role model because children are always watching!