How crayons can teach kids an important lesson about diversity

Kinderling News & Features

This week, in celebration of Mardi Gras, Kinderling has been encouraging kids and grown-ups to share how they like to express themselves. (If you haven’t already, be sure to give the Express Yourself mixtape a listen!)

When it comes to sexuality and gender identity, kids sure can ask some curly questions.

“What does gay mean?”

“Can you have two mums?”

“Can two dads have a baby?”

These honest, curious questions from a child can be tricky for parents to navigate, and it can be hard to find the “right” words when you’re thrown a curve ball out of the blue. It’s important that you think about the message you want to share with them, so that you have a sound answer when these conversations come up, articulated in words they’ll understand.

Below is a simple way you can use your kids' colouring pencils as a fun conversation starter, showing them that every person is unique and important.

All the colours of the rainbow

First, get out some paper and coloured crayons, then ask your child to choose one colour.

Next, see if they can draw a rainbow only using their one selected colour.

They miiiiight get a decipherable outline… but there’s no way of capturing all the beautiful colours if you’re only using one crayon.

Now explain that every person adds their own colour to the world. Some people are a fiery red, others are a mellow yellow, others a calm blue. What colour would your kid say they are? What about Mummy? Or Daddy? Would they want to live in a world with some of the colours missing?

Remind them that, just because one crayon might be someone’s favourite colour, it takes all colours to make a bright, colourful rainbow.

Other ways to talk about the LGBTQI community with kids

Be clear: If you don’t spell out that a couple is in a same-sex relationship, a child is likely to think they are just two good friends. Making it clear helps remove any confusion, and starts breaking down the stereotype that a relationship has to work in a particular way.

Be positive: If your kid asks a question about same-sex relationships, the tone of your answer matters. If they ask you, “Can two boys get married,” the answer is a positive “yes”. Trying to inform them of the wider debate will likely only scare them or make them unsure.

Address any negative comments, pronto! Don’t sweep discriminatory comments under the rug. It’s important that kids learn early on that these words are hurtful and inappropriate.

Share kid-friendly books and videos: There are an ever-growing number of children's books that celebrate diverse families, like our Story of the Week, Wrestle! by Maya Newell, Charlotte Mars and Gus Skattebol-James. These are a great way to teach kids about families that might be different to their own.