Here are 5 tips to build self-esteem in biracial children so they learn to feel confident in who they are.
Hsin Chen, writer at Nanani World, shares her tips for building self-esteem and confidence in biracial children.
Today’s world is often defined as a world without borders. The population of the interracial marriage and multiracial children are continuing to increase.
New findings from Pew Research indicate that the number of multiracial or multiethnic children has tripled since 1980.
In other words, one-in-seven U.S. infants (14%) were multiracial or multiethnic by 2015.
I’m from Taiwan, and my husband is Brazilian. We have two biracial daughters, and both are under three years old.
Children begin to notice racial and ethnic differences in particular between the ages of 3 and 5.
Being a first-time parent, the racial topic has always been on top of my mind.
When I think about raising a confident biracial kid who can embrace her differences, the first thing that came to my mind is really to build their self-esteem.
Self-esteem is how much kids value themselves and how important they believe they are in their world.
However, self-esteem, as you may know, comes and goes. There are times that we feel good about ourselves, and there are times that we don’t.
Therefore, the ultimate goal of developing a child’s self-esteem is to teach them resilience when handling emotions.
Parents usually have a significant influence on their child’s self-esteem development. How we communicate, involve, and interact with them has a direct impact on our kids.
There are several things parents can do to help multiracial children to be empowered.
5 tips for building self-esteem in biracial children
Let them know their family
By letting children know their family members, it can make them feel comfortable about themselves.
A strong family relationship can help children to develop family self-esteem.
Family pride can be nourished and developed, including participating in activities, tracing family heritage, and caring for family members. Children who grow up in a family that believes and trusts each other, respects their differences, and shows affection for each other, can boost children’s confidence.
We are currently living in Barcelona, where most of our family members are overseas, and we contact both sides of our family quite often to maintain a close relationship.
Familiarize them with their features
I often find people discussing my children’s features, “Who has bigger eyes? Who is more Asian looking?”
This is definitely one of the most challenging parts of being a biracial child, because people often judge their appearance.
My husband and I always end the conversation by telling the girls they look beautiful the way they are!
You can teach your kids about the features through games and songs, instead of emphasizing that they look Asian, Caucasian, or any other specific race.
It’s a good idea to mirror them with you by saying things like, “This is your nose! Looks like papa’s nose, papa has a tall nose”.
Try to get your children to relate to you rather than classifying them into a category.
Have them pick their own clothes
Another thing we do at home is encourage our children to pick out their outfit.
By doing this, your kids can develop a sense of individuality.
When you allow them to pick out items for themselves, you’re encouraging them to gain a stronger sense of self. In fact, toddlers at around age three are very vocal about their wardrobe.
In general, you can begin by picking the color.
A three-year-old toddler should be familiar with a few names of the colors so you could ask things like, ” What’s your favorite color?” or “Would you rather wear a blue sweater or a yellow one?”
Favorite cartoon characters are another useful method to help your children select clothes.
Throughout the process, you can use simple words to make them feel valued, such as “I like the way you match the colors!” or “The cars on your pants look cool!”
Keep in mind that less is more.
There’s no need to over-purchase children’s products. A few selections of general colors, and themes that relate to your children’s life is more than enough.
The key is to get your biracial children to feel comfortable in their own skin, and knowing their body shape and dressing with confidence helps.
When your kids like the way they look, they feel good about themselves.
Live in a multicultural society
I am fortunate enough to be in Barcelona at this moment. Barcelona is a multicultural city that has a robust global relationship.
Providing my children with an environment that’s full of diversity was one of my parenting plans.
Searching for a multicultural neighborhood and school in my previous city was challenging, and this is one of the main reasons why my husband and I decided to move our daughters to Spain.
It was critical for us to make the move because by placing the girls in a multicultural society where people are generally aware of, and respect differences, our girls will feel more confident to choose whoever they want to be and be open-minded enough to respect other people’s differences at the same time.
However, if moving to a multicultural society isn’t an option, here are three tips on introducing diversity to your children.
Have diverse play dates
Of course this isn’t always easy especially if you live in an area that isn’t diverse, but if you have the chance for to let them play with kids from other cultures, races, nationalities, and backgrounds, this can be very beneficial for them!
Choose a multicultural classroom where diversity is celebrated
Children spend the majority of their time at school, and this is undoubtedly one of the most effective ways to expose diversity to your children.
As your kids get older, they’re more influenced by their peers than by you.
Therefore, in the long run, growing and learning in a multicultural classroom gives children a greater understanding of differences, from skin color and beliefs, to behavior.
Choose diverse activities
Playing games with multicultural characters, reading books with biracial children as the main character, and doing arts and crafts that support diversity, are a great way to introduce diversity to your kids.
These activities provide visual cues to help young kids understand the differences and similarities between others and themselves.
Teach them about volunteering
People tend to judge biracial children, and this judgment creates self-doubt and is hurtful to children who are still searching to figure out their identity.
Biracial kids often find themselves living in a blurred line growing up.
However, a way to combat those feelings of self-doubt are by having your kids volunteer.
Research has shown that kids who make volunteering a part of their lives, are more confident and have higher self-esteem.
Recently we’ve joined a volunteer group in Barcelona called Esperança, which is also known as the HOPE project.
It’s a group of volunteers who go out to distribute clothing, sleeping bags, shoes, socks, and food to the Barcelona homeless.
I was very excited about the opportunity to be involved in something so meaningful with my kids. We get to donate juice, and my kids get to be involved.
There are three main benefits of doing volunteer work with children regularly:
1) It teaches kids the idea that a simple act of kindness and love can be small, but still makes a significant impact on other people’s lives.
2) Once again, people frequently judge biracial children. Therefore, by joining volunteer activities, your kids can develop a sense of self-security.
Your children will be more likely to understand everyone is different and has their own stories, while making them less likely to be defined or impacted by how society views them.
3) Volunteering is a great family bonding activity!
I believe the feeling of “loving who you are” has to come from within.
These five ways to build self-esteem in your biracial children will give your kids the tools they need to feel confident in who they are as they grow up!
My name is Hsin (founder of nanani.world) and I am a third-culture kid from Taiwan. My husband Daniel was raised in a mixed Brazilian-Catalan family. We have two little daughters Luana and Maya. Daniel and I grew up in two worlds where the environment and culture are entirely different! After our children were born, we wanted to establish family values of our own and started to think about building a home in a suitable place. As a result, we gathered up enough courage and move 11,000 km to Barcelona from Taiwan. I was a marketing director before moving to Spain, and currently, I am a happy stay at home mother who is starting a new life and career.