“I like all colours – even girl colours!”grandson Mr Four exclaimed.
The audio from the latest family video shocked me. In no way did it reflect the values of our young family. The scene was set outside their home where Miss Two and Mr Four were painting their posters and chatting about their artworks with their mum.
Mr Four had been a bundle of excitement that morning. His mum recalled how he leapt through the doorway to the shoe store to pick out his new sneakers. Shrieking with excitement, Mr Four pointed to the pair he wanted but the well meaning shop attendant shattered his enthusiasm and instead, brought him a pair of “sensible” black sneakers to inspect.
“Not those shoes dear, they are girl colours”.helpful shop attendant
With one careless throwaway remark, the shop attendant had altered Mr Four’s perception and choice. Miss Two sat on a chair nearby swinging her legs and taking in the whole scene. It was a moment in time where a young impressionable audience had been introduced to stereotypical talk that could shape their future.
Standing alone and downcast, Mr Four looked miserable until his mum encouraged him to ask the attendant to bring out the shoes he liked the best so he could try them on for size and fit.
Apparently there was much glaring activity that literally went over the children’s heads.
Mr Four threw his shoulders back and stood tall in his new kicks while Miss Two squatted down to inspect the fit with an expertly aimed poke at the toe of each sneaker. When asked to walk to the end of the store and back, Mr Four crouched into a race start and exploded into a noisy blur around the fitting chairs. Leaping back into his mother’s arms he breathlessly announced that these sneakers were his favourite.
When asked why, he gleefully responded: “because these ones are fast colours and will help me run my fastest”
Children are receptive to the influence of dated concepts from people they meet in their world and making it that much harder for parents to counteract.
By the time children start their formal schooling, they have been exposed to corrosive stereotypical conversations that can shape not only their behaviour but the lens through which they view their world.
As adults we have a powerful platform to help children view themselves, how they fit in their world and how they perceive others .
What language are you using to help your students develop mindfulness that challenge stereotypical views?