Children recognize social class early on

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Rich, poor, middle class. Parents often believe it is their responsibility to protect their children from economic and class differences.

But new research shows that children as young as 5 are not economically blind. In fact, by the time they reach preschool, children know the difference.

UCLA developmental psychologist Dr. Rashmita Mistry studies social stratification and its impact on children.

“So, thinking of education and professions, income and wealth. We think if we don’t draw attention to this then maybe the kids won’t think it’s important, ”Mistry said. “In fact, what we know is that it is the opposite.

Mistry’s team showed children ages 5 to 8 four depictions of local neighborhoods and asked them which one most closely resembled their own. Most of the children chose the middle class photo. More than a third were also able to give concrete reasons, such as the appearance of a house. She also asked them if it was fair that some people were rich and others were poor.

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Elementary school student Paulo Williams said, “Well that’s not fair, but few things are right. “

“I feel my family is rich because they have two wonderful children, me and my brother,” said Charles Heath, an elementary school student.

Parents should continue the conversation at home. Don’t ignore your child’s observations. Use their curiosity to start a conversation.

Instead of saying “a homeless person / a poor person”, use phrases like “a homeless person”. This reinforces the fact that poverty does not define a person but describes their current situation. Encourage concern, compassion, and action.

“I think our job as adults is to help them understand this,” Mistry said.

Mistry is working with teachers to develop a program to help children understand why there are differences.

Mistry believes that engaging with children in conversations about the similarities and significant differences between wealth and poverty is an important step in reducing stereotypical beliefs and nurturing a sense of civic identity. When children see poverty and inequality as unfair, they strive to correct the disparities.

Copyright 2020 by Ivanhoe Newswire – All rights reserved.


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