When we look around there are a wide range of differences between people such as what we think or how we look. Sometimes people, including children, respond to those differences in ways that are hurtful. Teaching children about uniqueness of individuals, letting them know that differences are good, and seeing the value in the differences can impact how children respond to those differences.
This task can seem overwhelming, but parents can accomplish it by doing four simple things. First, be intentional about exposing your child to different people and cultures. Reading books and stories, visiting museums (when we can safely do that again), and simply talking with others can provide rich experiences. Second, model respectful behaviors towards others. Remember that children learn from watching their parents, so they will do what they see you do. Third, be reflective about your own thoughts and actions. Think about any assumptions or unconscious biases that you may have and how they may be coming out in your words and actions. Address them by being willing to learn more about the people that you have assumptions or unconscious biases about. Finally, be mindful as this is the foundation for the other three suggestions. Think about your words and actions and the messages that they convey to others. This will help you be a model for understanding and respecting individual uniqueness.
We are all different and unique with our own talents and expertise. Respecting and honoring those differences can go a long way to help build each other up. So, find an activity that can help your child learn about the differences of others and themselves so they can learn to love those differences and not fear them.
Monet Somerville, MS
Monet received her Bachelor’s of Arts in Psychology from North Carolina Wesleyan College. She then went on to receive her Master’s in Science in Psychology with a Concentration in Child and Adolescent Development from Capella University. She is currently pursuing her PhD in Developmental Psychology with a Concentration in Child and Adolescent Development. Monet is also a licensed Trust Based Relational Intervention Practitioner.
Prior to working to The Parenting Center, Monet worked as a Case Manager in a residential facility for adolescent girls who were in foster care but were unable to be placed in a foster home. She also taught foster parents about child development and the impacts that positive parenting can make on a child.