Now more than ever we hear parents express a desire for diverse toys for kids. More specifically, toys that mirror the world that they will grow up in. The goal is that children learn and develop an understanding for people of different races and cultures. Toys, especially figurines, are an effective method for teaching traits or behaviors like empathy, compassion, and inclusion. Learn about the importance of teaching kids about inclusivity and how you can encourage it with your toy purchases, as well as outside of the playroom.
The Importance of Racial Diversity in Dolls
Inclusive dolls or figurines are a staple for your toy box. They can be used to address several topics, like representation and compassion. Representation is especially important for children who are part of a minority group. They may rarely see their race or culture represented in toys or the media. Or in roles of authority or that they deem important, like a principal or firefighter. This can negatively impact their self-esteem in the long run and cause them to feel the need to assimilate. Meanwhile, seeing and playing with dolls or figures that look like them will reaffirm their identity and that they have a place in this world!
For children who are not part of a marginalized group, racially diverse dolls are a great way to bring up topics about equality. By 6 months old, babies start to notice racial differences, By age 4 they can show signs of racial bias. But you can use playtime to discuss serious topics. For example, covering the concept of what is ‘fair’ in regard to race. Or telling stories that cover resistance and resilience in the face of a bully. Try to cover things that your children are likely to notice in the real world so that they are better prepared to face them.
Teaching Kids About Inclusivity
An even more difficult area to address, even with toys, is inclusivity. There simply aren’t enough toys on the market that showcase so many people! But the small number of toys that do exist can teach children to have compassion and respect for the different types of people they will meet. Some of the most popular toys currently available display people of different ability levels and genders. Meanwhile, some differences will be easier to talk about at the moment. Such as financial class, language, neurodiversity, and mental health. But helping kids understand that differences should be recognized and celebrated will make it easier for them to digest new experiences. For this reason, many parents naturally begin talking to their children about inclusivity as they approach school age. Just remember that while toys can help introduce kids to the concept of differences and acceptance, the best way to teach any behavior is to model it!
How to Diversify Your Toy Box
The products that children see matter. By encouraging them to acknowledge different races, ethnicities, and cultures, we foster ideals of awareness and acceptance. Thankfully, the range of diverse toys for kids is only increasing, making it easier than ever to model the world we live in and the people in it. To help you be more conscious of your toy, game, and book selections, here are a few ways to diversify your toy box.
- Collect dolls or action figures that showcase the full-color spectrum. You can also include a range of different cultures they are likely to encounter.
- During imaginative play promote equality and break stereotypes by assigning authority roles to figures of minority races.
- Include people figures, or incorporate books with people figures, who have physical disabilities.
- Watch and move to the music from different parts of the world. Bonus points if it includes people of different races and cultures dancing. Talk about it and what they thought!
- Teach them a few keywords from a language they might hear. Start with ‘hello’!
- Incorporate flavors and foods from different cultures into mealtimes. Focus not only on the food but when, why, and how it is prepared and eaten.
At Meemzy Magic we believe representation matters! Any of our kits that contain people figures will include a range of skin tones that help every child feel seen and loved. Visit our product page to shop our diverse toys for kids, featuring non-toxic sensory kits!