There is an increasing amount of diversity within school systems these days. Throughout their young lives, children will be exposed to many different types of people and cultures. Their reactions to these different individuals will be primarily based on how you behave in similar situations; at a young age, many children do not consider skin color to be a difference between people. However, your influence is stronger than you think. By controlling your own personal biases in these types of situations, you can teach your child the necessary steps toward respecting and honoring differences among others.
Be Receptive to Discussion
In many circumstances, racism doesn’t come into play at a young age. The only noticeable behavior among children when they’re pointing out differences from themselves is a physical handicap or something they can see is very different. By opening a line of communication and talking about how to respect others in a healthy way, you can encourage your child to respect and honor differences. Reflect on how you behave around people who are different — you’d be surprised at how children pick up on your social cues. Because you behave a certain way around someone, they may pick up those similar behaviors so always be conscious of modeling the behaviors and attitudes you would like to see in your children.
Be Open and Up-front
Acknowledging people’s differences in a simple and clear way is also important. If a child asks you about someone’s skin color or why they are in a wheelchair, be as honest and simple as possible. When a child asks a question about someone, they are expecting an immediate and understandable answer. Teaching them what sets people apart is important, but reminding them that everyone is human and deserves to be respected is even more important.