Embracing Body Diversity and Disabilities A Guide on Nurturing Conversations with Our Kids

The Art of Nurturing Body Diversity and Disability Awareness in Our Kids

Mother reading to children

We’ve all been there when our kids ask us tough or sensitive questions we don’t know how to answer. Navigating these conversations with our children can be as challenging as walking in high heels on a bumpy runway. Especially when it involves discussing abilities, different bodies, and body diversity. As our little fashionista’s become more aware of the world around them, their curiosity expands faster than the latest fashion trends. That’s why it’s so crucial to create a safe space where they can ask questions and seek guidance, like a fitting room where they can try on different ideas and learn to rock them with confidence. So, grab your sunglasses and let’s explore some essential insights on approaching these conversations with your mini fashion icons, ensuring that they feel supported and well-informed.

Talking to Kids About Body Diversity: It’s a Fashion Show for Empathy

Research indicates that discussing issues such as race, body diversity, and gender from age two helps children understand what they see and enhances their self-awareness and self-esteem. It’s like teaching them the perfect outfit for every occasion, helping them choose the right accessories to complement their personalities. To provide expert fashion advice, I reached out to Amber Coffman Crosby, a seasoned professional with over 16 years of experience in the fields of Social Impact, Corporate Social Responsibility, and DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion). Serving as the Senior Director of Jobs at Best Buddies International, Amber not only knows how to rock a killer outfit, but she also spearheads global initiatives to promote inclusivity and end the isolation experienced by individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Talk about a real fashion superhero!

Amber is not only a fashion guru but also a devoted mother of two boys. She knows how to accessorize those challenging questions you might encounter as a parent. So, let’s dive into her closet of wisdom together.

What’s the Correct Language when Referring to someone with a Disability? Let’s Talk Fashion Lingo.

This is a question that frequently ignites debate, but it’s crucial to remember that it should be as person-centered as the perfect little black dress. In the current climate, the recommended practice is to “ATP” (Ask The Person). However, you can opt for person-first language if this approach makes you feel as uncomfortable as wearing stilettos for a whole day. For example, say “a person who experiences life in a wheelchair” instead of “the wheelchair-bound person.” Nevertheless, it’s important to honor the preferences of individuals who choose to be identified by their disability first, like wearing a statement piece that screams “I’m an Autistic Wonder Woman.”

How Should We Discuss Individuals with Special Needs? Fashion it in the Right Words.

Similar to selecting the perfect outfit, terminology can vary widely like different fashion styles. Acceptable and commonly used terms include “neurodivergent,” “developmental or intellectual disabilities,” or specific terms such as “ASD (autism spectrum disorder).” Remember, using the word disability doesn’t have to be wrong; it’s just another part of life’s fabulous collection. The more we can embrace and make things comfortable for our fashion-forward children, the more confident they will be in adopting, expressing, and exploring their unique styles.

How Do We Approach these Conversations with Children? Catwalk over to their Curiosity.

Children are naturally curious, just like fashionistas in search of the perfect accessory. These conversations can start at an early age, like introducing them to their first pair of trendy sneakers. For instance, when your 4-year-old observes differences, such as calling someone a “baby” who may actually have a disability, it’s crucial to gently delve into their perception and explain that people come in various shapes, sizes, and abilities. Keep your explanations as simple and fashionable as a little black dress, tailored to their age. And remember to always create an open and safe environment for your little fashionistas to express their thoughts. If you’re uncertain how to respond, don’t hesitate to seek external fashion advice.

What Do We Do When Children Observe Someone’s Body or Ability in Public? Like a Runway Show, Acknowledge and Embrace Our Beautiful Differences.

Acknowledge your child’s curiosity and establish a fashion-forward environment for discussion, like a glamorous red carpet event. Assist them in discovering suitable language to articulate their observations gracefully. Remind them that, just like diverse fashion styles, we are all unique, and it’s our differences that make us truly beautiful. Let them know that we honor and celebrate these differences, just as we would applaud a breathtaking fashion piece on the runway.

Mother and son wearing pajamas

Further Resources to Support Your Stylish Conversation

When it comes to support and resources for how to talk to kids about body diversity, Amber recommends the following fabulous fashion-forward options:

  • Sanford Harmony: A tremendous resource for fostering positive relationships and social skills, like the ultimate accessory for successful interactions.
  • Best Buddies International: Their friendship programs promote inclusion and provide valuable insights, like a fashion magazine that showcases diverse styles.
  • “Demystifying Disabilities” by Emily Ladau: A great read to gain a deeper understanding of disabilities, like a fashion blog that takes you behind the scenes of the industry.
  • Spread the Word: A resourceful platform for enhancing awareness and language use, just like discovering the latest fashion trends from around the world.

To add more sparkle to your conversation, I reached out to Nikki Johnson, founder of Kidbookish, for book recommendations to initiate these conversations with your fashionable little ones. Here are her stylish picks:

Mother and children at dining table

Final Thoughts: Let’s Strut Our Inclusive Fashion Style

Initiating these fashion-forward discussions at home and using these resources can contribute to an environment where your children feel as comfortable discussing abilities, different bodies, and body diversity as they feel in their favorite pair of sneakers. Embracing body diversity and fostering inclusivity begins with open and age-appropriate conversations with our little fashion icons. Equipping them with the correct fashion lingo, trendy comprehension, and fabulous resources enables us to nurture empathy, acceptance, and respect for all individuals, regardless of their abilities or appearance. Remember that these discussions are like an ever-evolving fashion show, constantly changing and growing. So don’t shy away from seeking fashion assistance and learning alongside your children. It’s a journey for all of us, and together, we can create a fashion-forward world full of style, diversity, and love.

Now it’s your turn! Share your fashion tips and experiences in the comments below. Let’s create a trendy community and empower each other to raise fashion-forward and inclusive children!