Children are born without prejudice. As they grow up and observe their environment, they shape their way of thinking, acquire values and attach emotions to everything around them, including people. If we take a closer look, children at an early age do not care about the nationality, skin color, or language spoken by their playmates. Stereotypes and prejudices at that stage of life are, in part, transmitted from adults. Teaching sons and daughters to be tolerant and accepting of others through respect and knowledge is a way of helping them to be open-minded and kind to difference. That is why we would like to share some tips on how to educate children to respect differences.
6 TIPS FOR EDUCATING WITH RESPECT FOR DIFFERENCES
Remember they are like sponges
Sometimes we adults think that children do not realize what is going on around them until they are old enough to understand what we are really talking about. But even if they don’t understand things from an adult’s point of view, they do understand things from their perspective and are fully aware of what is going on. They watch us, listen to us, and perceive how we feel and when we lie. Pay attention and be aware of your own attitude when dealing with other people. You are an example for the little ones.
Educating in respect
That we ourselves show respect to others is a way of educating our sons and daughters in the same way. The sooner we teach them and work on valuing people and embracing differences, the better it will be for their future. If they begin to value and treat their friends with affection, it will be easier for them to develop the ability to respect others, themselves and the world around them, regardless of who they are. If, for example, they see in us an attitude of respect towards the elderly or those suffering from illness, they will understand that it is natural to treat with kindness.
Do not encourage stereotypes
One way to educate our sons and daughters in respect and tolerance toward others is to teach them that there is nothing negative about being different. Avoid falling into stereotypes, comments, or actions that discriminate against others based on race or gender. If you witness a situation in which a lack of acceptance of someone outside the norm is evident, pretending that nothing happened is not the best way to promote respect. Explain to them why this is not okay and tell them why it is necessary to learn to accept people as they are.
Talking and listening
Children are naturally very curious. Take the opportunity to talk to them about tolerance, discrimination, stereotypes, multiculturalism… Adults often have the bad habit of not talking to children about important topics, but by adapting the words and arguments according to their age, we can discuss any topic with them, no matter how complex it may seem. Listen to their comments and answer their questions in a kind and respectful manner, teaching them that differences can be discussed as long as it is done respectfully.
Education and references
Culture offers us numerous options to teach our sons and daughters the value of tolerance and respect for differences. Books, movies, songs… endless possibilities to help them detect and talk about stereotypes, to pay attention to what unites us, instead of focusing on the difference. Find out about the cultural offerings in your town or city and share different cultural activities or ethnic festivals with your children. Traveling, trying foods from other countries or walking through neighborhoods different from your own, is a way to promote tolerance through culture.
Attention with technology
Today, children are born into a digital environment and are exposed to receiving information through various channels, be it television, the Internet or social networks. They can receive very positive messages but, unfortunately, there are also those full of hatred and intolerance towards diversity. Banning is not a solution that can be sustained over time and can backfire, so we propose that parents teach them to use these tools so that they learn to differentiate discrimination from tolerance. In addition, listening to different opinions, even if they do not share them, is a way of teaching them to integrate with their environment, respect different ideas and encourage critical thinking.
It is in our hands the education, not only of our sons and daughters but also of the boys and girls who live around us. Remember that adults are an example and that values begin at home.