Celebrating our differences
Teaching children acceptance and understanding of diversity
Each day we encounter people with a variety of accents, skin tones, physical and mental abilities, religious traditions, and a multitude of other characteristics different than our own.
How can we teach our children to accept and understand diversity amidst their peers?
“It’s important to help your children identify their own special skills, qualities and character traits, and then discuss how your child’s unique abilities make him or her special and important – just as everyone else’s do,” said Lisa Elliott, Ph.D., a licensed psychologist at Cook Children’s in Denton, Texas.
Elliott said it’s nice to explain to children that without diversity, the world would lack excitement and variety. “Everyone is important and has something to offer the world,” she said.
For children to truly accept differences in their peers, they must develop an attitude of openness and respect for each other. You can easily instill this in children by celebrating differences and being conscious of your own words and actions, monitoring media consumption and teaching good social skills.
“Be willing to answer your child’s questions about differences they notice in others, and encourage them to ask you questions,” Elliott said. “You can also create socialization opportunities for your children to play and work with others who are different.”
As your children become aware of diversity, they may ask specific questions about the differences or disabilities of their peers. These questions should not be discouraged but should be discussed and explored in a private location.
“Parents should not discuss or describe a difference or disability as something bad or negative,” Elliott said. “Do your best to keep the explanation simple, short and age-appropriate.”
How do you talk to your kids about differences? Let us know in the comment section below.