The purpose of these discussion ideas is to build awareness of how and why people talk about people in groups as if they are all the same. Ultimately we want them to be able to recognize this in their own thoughts and behaviors.
Definition: A stereotype is a preconceived notion, especially about a group of people. This is often due to a lack of exposure and understanding. Many stereotypes are negative, such as racism, sexism, or homophobia.
When your child is exposed to a stereotype that you see as insensitive, initiate a discussion that explores:
- Sometimes groups think it makes their group look better if they make other groups look bad. It can show up as teasing, shaming or bullying people who are different from them.
- Let’s think about groups we belong to. Favorite sports team? Faith? Ethnicity? Gender? Music preference? Do we ever experience people assuming things about each of our groups that aren’t true? Consider sharing some of the stereotypes you (as a parent) have had to experience.
- How does it feel when people think they know something about you that isn’t true?
- How does it feel when you don’t get to participate in activities that interest you – just because of stereotypes?
- Occasionally note examples of stereotypes in images or movies and TV. “It looks like they are talking about a group as if they are all the same. Is it meant to be funny? Do you think the people in that stereotyped group would be okay with it?”
- Let’s notice and help one another spot images that may make some people feel bad about themselves.
- If someone starts making fun of a group or an individual in a group, you might want to say something like, “I think those words could hurt someone’s feelings. Can we find better words or a better way?”