In the very popular Peppa Pig series for children, the mainstream characters are all different species of animals, living together harmoniously. Danny Dog co-habits with Candy Cat and Rebecca Rabbit instead of chasing them for his dinner. The series also went on to include Peppas Holi and Peppas Diwali celebrations to broaden its cultural representation. Then a new character Mandy Mouse came along. Mandy, whose legs dont work like everyone elses, was spotted in a wheelchair. She is instantly embraced by Peppas band of friends, who even marvel at her ability to play sports like a pro! And just last year, they introduced the shows first gay couple Mummy Polar Bear and Doctor Polar Bear. Their daughter Penny says, I live with my mummy and my other mummy! The series is a great starting point for toddlers, who understand that diversity, equity, and inclusion otherwise collectively known as DEI should naturally and seamlessly be a part of daily life.With DEI becoming a part of the social fabric at school and the larger community, it is important for children to learn these early on to shape their value systems before they enter adulthood. DEI are often clubbed together, but these are three different values, albeit those that go hand in hand, says child psychologist Dr Tara Jagannathan. Diversity is the understanding and celebration of differences that exist between us; there are differences in our race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, religious and political beliefs, and physical and mental abilities. Equity is the ability to ensure that people are given equal opportunities to succeed, regardless of their background. Inclusion is recognising that everyone deserves a place at the table, and creating a sense of belonging. When you acknowledge that these three are essential traits and consciously try to get your children to imbibe them, they grow up to be empathetic and accepting of those who are different from or more disadvantaged than them. This is a must for the next generation of citizens, who are walking into a world that requires a global perspective.Practice What You PreachA good starting point is setting an example, says Dr Tara. Children will ask questions, and you should be prepared to answer them with words and actions. Watch what youre saying and doing. Are there any unconscious biases that youre passing down to them? The mistake parents frequently make is to assume their children are too young to understand the nuances of diversity. However, they are deeply impacted by their environment at home. They frequently mimic and voice what they hear from the adults they consider role models. Embrace people from all backgrounds, abilities, and skin colours, reiterating to your child that we are all different but deserve equal representation and opportunity. The idea is to acknowledge differences, not shy away from them.Choose Your School WiselyYour child spends eight hours a day at school. His or her teachers and peers are the strongest influence after you. Check if your childs school has a formal or informal DEI policy in place, with zero tolerance towards discrimination or bullying. Look at their approach to gender. For example, are boys and girls treated differently and not given equal opportunities? Are non-binary children welcome? You may not find a school that ticks every single box, but find something that aligns closely enough with your value system. Does the school have equitable and accessible spaces for those who cannot access them? If your child is differently-abled, they must know they deserve access to these spaces. If your child is not, they should still understand that some people have limited abilities, and the quality and nature of education imparted to them should not be impacted due to this. Interact with the teachers beforehand, to suss out any traces of favouritism or negativity based on a childs background. All of these need to be considered before you zero in on a school.Encourage EmpathyLife coach and conscious parenting consultant Aliya Qazim says, If your child is being insensitive to the differences between him/herself and other children, teach them empathy. This is nothing but putting yourself in someone elses shoes for a while. Ask them to imagine how they would feel if they were bullied for the colour of their skin, or laughed at for their weight. It is likely that they will understand and be more empathetic, instead of falling prey to societal stereotypes and peer pressure. In India, we sometimes live in communities that are homogenous. Then it becomes all the more important for us to seek out exposure for our children, which gives them insights into diversity and the need to build an inclusive society.Dont Let Them Feel InferiorIf your child is at the receiving end of bullying and discrimination, you can still make a difference, adds Alia. Instil a strong sense of identity, pride in ones circumstances and choices, self-esteem, and dignity. Children are more likely to be happier and well-adjusted. It is important to tell them not to take any kind of prejudice lying down, as it then sends a message that the perpetrator is somewhat superior. This goes against the values of DEI. Standing up for yourself doesnt mean you need to put others down. Keep doors of communication open, so that your child is able to confide in you.The world is shrinking, and it is inevitable that your child will need to interact with people from different backgrounds and abilities. If you dont teach them how and why DEI matters, they stand to lose academically, professionally, and even in personal human interactions. The cornerstone of success in all relationships is communication. Teach them to engage with the world around them with kindness, empathy, and respect.