“…Shhh… We Don’t Say That Words!”
“Mom, look… that lady is so fat!” a little voice whispered when I was waiting to pick up my daughter around her class. That voice was actually my 3 years old son responding to the woman who was walking right in front of us. I am pretty sure that lady was closed enough to us to hear what my son’s whisper….. I was stunning and so unprepared, and found out that my response was to tell my son that it was not good to say that words…..
I did not want the woman felt bad, so I tried to quiet my son as soon as possible. To my surprise, my son was very upset when I told him like that…. I realized that what my son’s doing was part of his observation of the people and his environment… He was just trying to tell me the truth fact about people around him as well as sharing what he was thinking….
At that time, I realized that I treated my son inappropriately, but I really did not know what to do, what to say or what not to say. I felt like I was going to say the wrong thing, so should I just say nothing to my son?
It was long ago before I learned and knew about the Anti Bias Education…. Now I realize, as an anti-bias educator and parent, I would have stopped with my son and asked questions to see what he thought about these differences (Laureate Education, Inc., 2011). I should have explained to my son that people were different and they may have different shapes and sizes, and it was just fine. We need to be constantly re-evaluating the messages we give to children (Laureate Education, Inc., 2011). My comment may be simple, but it could make a direct positive statement about diversity and used myself as a parent as a model of other possible ways to think about differences (Laureate Education, Inc., 2011).
I know I am not the expert yet to be an anti bias educator, but at least the knowledge that I have, would open the door to many possibilities to give a right start for my children to respond about differences. I realize that what my son was doing by saying that the woman is so fat was his way to know more about his own and other’s various identity and appearance (Derman-Sparks & Edwards, 2010). It reflects my son’s desire to make sense of the world. What my son said was not necessarily the signs of developing prejudice.
However, what I did by silencing him (“It’s not good to say that words!”) or avoiding real answers ( “It’s not important!”) can lead my son to conclude that there is something discomforting or fearful about being different (Derman-Sparks & Edwards, 2010).
I really hope that I can build the right foundation for my children’s healthy development and their future life success to develop comfortable and respectful interactions with the differences and all kinds of people around us.
Regards from Borneo-Brunei Darussalam
Derman-Sparks, L., & Olsen Edwards, J. (2010). Anti-bias education for young children and ourselves. Washington, DC: NAEYC.
Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). Start Seeing Diversity: Physical Ability and Characteristics. Retrieved from http://mym.cdn.laureate-media.com/2dett4d/Walden/EDUC/6357/CH/mm/audio_player/index_week6.html
Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). Start Seeing Diversity: Race/Ethnicity. Retrieved from http://mym.cdn.laureate-media.com/2dett4d/Walden/EDUC/6357/CH/mm/audio_player/index_week6.html