Our children are being introduced to so many more people than any other generation before them. Whether through school, outside activities, or on some form of electronic media, they have the opportunity to learn a great deal about people who come from diverse backgrounds, including those from different ethnicities, religions, sexual orientations, and family dynamics. So, how can we, as parents make sure they are accepting of the differences in others?
Here are some tips parents can follow when trying to teach their children about diversity:
- Set a good example – It might sound obvious but our children learn just as much from watching what we do as listening to what we say. As parents, we must recognize and address our own short-comings when it comes to accepting diversity if we want to teach our children correctly. Our actions cannot contradict the lessons we are trying to teach and we must lead by example if we do not want our children judge others based on stereotypes.
- Get out of your comfort zone – While we all agree technology can make the world a much smaller place, the fact is most of us still spend our daily lives living in communities where the majority of our neighbors look like us and share the same values and traditions. Unfortunately, raising our children in a homogeneous environment is not conducive to truly teaching them about accepting diversity because they don’t get the opportunity to experience those who are “different.” Parents must make a deliberate effort to leave our familiar surroundings and experience and appreciate diversity.
- Listen to what your child is saying – As much we would like to think we are the only influences in our children’s lives, we are not. They see and hear things from other adults, other children and other sources. Other influences can lead to the formation of inaccurate perceptions and beliefs. Take notice if your child is using hurtful or stereotypical language and take time to explain why something is inappropriate. Also encourage your children to ask questions. You can help provide explanations to things that might otherwise be confusing to them.
- Don’t ignore differences – Many parents mistakenly want their children to be “difference blind.” This can only make the situation worse. There are many differences among us that should be embraced including how someone speaks, what they wear or eat, how their name is pronounced, or if they have two moms. These differences are bound to ignite curiosity and could lead to questions. Instead of ignoring diversity, teach your child to accept what makes us all unique and that our differences are only part of who we are, but they do not define us.
By following these tips, you can raise your children to be more accepting of others, which will go a long way in their development into adulthood.
All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.