Parents who teach their children to be respectful and inclusive of those different from themselves may help them avoid the difficulties that come with preconceived ideas.
This article will explore the ways in which parents can raise a child who values difference by teaching them that everyone deserves respect, no matter their differences by showing them how they can help others feel included.
Introduce your child to new people and places
Introducing your child to people and places that may be different from what they are used to can create a positive space for conversation and learning.
One way parents can teach their children about being respectful is by being sensitive when talking about others with their kids.
Introducing the idea of an unfamiliar culture or background as something interesting rather than scary or unknown will help kids become more comfortable around those things.
Parents can also let their children know what things (if any) in a particular environment are off-limits when it comes to talking.
For example, if a child sees a person who is different from them and makes a comment about that difference, parents should explain why that would/could be perceived as offensive, rather than just chastising them for doing something wrong.
Parents can help teach their children about being respectful by letting them know that everyone deserves respect no matter how different they may seem.
It is important for parents to give an explanation of why people would judge others based on external factors, such as ethnicity, religion, ability, etc.
When giving this explanation, it's crucial to emphasise valuing internal qualities over external attributes.
Encouraging their child to focus on how people treat others as opposed to what they look like will help them learn how to be accepting of those who are different from them.
Practice empathy in everyday life
Parents can help their children learn to value difference by encouraging empathy and providing opportunities for them to reward others with kindness.
For example, parents can take their kids to volunteer at a homeless shelter or invite other families over for dinner.
These activities will give the child an opportunity to witness someone else's struggles and show them that they can make a positive impact on someone's life in small ways.
Parents should also encourage conversation about what the child did and how it made them (and potentially others) feel when helping to reinforce this lesson of valuing others' feelings.
Parents may also want to share examples from their own lives where something simple has impacted another person in a positive way or how appreciating differences makes life more interesting and creates deeper connections.
Parents can also model empathy in their own lives and remind kids that they should be compassionate towards others.
Talk through differences and similarities and share them with your child.
Parents can help teach difference to their children by talking about what difference means to each family member.
By explaining how one person is different from another, parents are showing the child value diversity while helping them see that people come from different backgrounds, have different appearances or upbringings, but ultimately this does not make them any less human or deserving of respect, support, and love.
This same lesson can be applied when discussing similarity between people as well; by letting kids know that everyone has a lot in common will help build a sense of togetherness that serves as the foundation of acceptance.
Show your child how they can help others feel included by giving compliments or inviting someone over for a play date.
Teaching children the importance of diversity and difference is important to helping them grow up with an open mind towards those who are different from them, whether that's due to physical attributes, race, religion, sexual orientation or other differences that make individuals unique.
More importantly though, teaching kids about difference will encourage them to value themselves as unique individuals who can make a positive impact on others' lives through their own uniqueness.
Discuss what makes each person special
By discussing difference at home, encouraging empathy in your child's everyday life, and modelling positivity towards others will help lay a strong foundation for your child to recognise difference as a good thing both in themselves and the people around them.
Remember that it is crucial not to shame or criticise others' appearances or differences, but instead show your child that everyone deserves respect by displaying that behaviour yourself.
By teaching children about diversity from a young age, parents can help ensure they grow up with an open mind towards difference which will make the world a better place.
Allow them to explore their own creativity through art or other projects
Encourage children to try new foods or visit places where they might be different from their home setting.
Showing interest in the same will help your child realise that you value difference, not just conformity.
By engaging in these activities with your child it shows them that being open-minded is a good thing and will allow them to appreciate people for who they are, not how they appear or what they do or do not have in common with themselves.
Read books together as a family that teach diversity and respect for difference
Today, there is lots of reading material available both for adults and children - parents could begin by reading books with their children about a person or character who is different and then follow it up with a discussion about why difference is not something that should make someone less deserving of respect, but instead should make others more interested in getting to know and understand each other.
By reading books with your child and discussing each story, parents can help kids understand the importance of everyone being treated with love and respect while also expanding their understanding of difference.
Teaching children about diversity at an early age will help create a sense of empathy for others which will serve them well throughout their lives.
It is important not to make difference seem like problems because this kind of negative thinking will only serve to alienate people further from one another.
If you're looking for a way to teach your children the importance of respecting differences, there are many ways that can help instill this value in their lives.
One important aspect is giving them space and time to explore different cultures or religions by visiting places where they might be different from home, trying new foods, and reading books like those we've mentioned.
This will allow your child to see the difference as something good rather than bad which will encourage empathy towards others from an early age.
When it comes down to teaching kids about diversity at home, remember not to shame or criticise other people's appearances but instead show respect yourself so that your child learns how great everyone deserves to be treated with kindness no matter who they are!
What ways have you found that you can teach children about diversity in a positive way?
Feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts!