Laying the Foundation for Healthy Racial Identity: Toddlers & Preschoolers

Laying the Foundation for Healthy Racial Identity

I’m by no means an expert on raising biracial children. I rely a lot on my husband, insights from other parents (hooray for on-line communities!), and whatever resources I manage to get my hands on, and then, with all of that as a guide, I follow my instincts.

The last few weeks I’ve been reading back over some book chapters on racial identity in preschoolers. When it comes to helping the 5-and-under crowd develop a healthy racial identity, I think our job as parents is really about laying a solid foundation for later on, when they start becoming aware of race. The general principle I’ve come up with, based on what I’ve been reading is:

I think this advice is applicable to children of all races, including white children. So let’s break it down…and then please let me know what YOU think!

Help children feel good about who they are:

  • Support, nurturing, and encouragement are essential. Beyond everything else, we want our kids to feel good about themselves. We want them to have a rock solid sense of who they are so that later in life, when someone questions them, they have a strong foundation to stand on. As parents, we can need to build up our children’s sense of worth by encouraging and pointing out their strengths and making sure they have a warm, loving, structured family environment. As parents, we are our children’s mirror. If someone asks Zip to tell about himself, I hope he will think about those parts of himself that we are constantly trying to reflect back to himself and giving him opportunities to develop. I hope he would confidently say that he is smart, funny, creative, imaginative, and kind!

Read all of Ellie’s tips for ‘Laying the Foundation for Healthy Racial Identity’ at



  1. says

    Hello MusingMomma,

    I've made it my life's work to assist multiethnic people feel proud of we are and not define ourselves in a boxed identity. We are shaped by many societal contexts and evolve in our identity over a lifetime. Please check out my website and scroll down to the 16 min. Video on multi ethnicity. Peace, Edward