These days, the news seems to be filled with heartbreaking stories. The climate that we are in is especially scary when you’re trying to raise children. They are exposed to so many messages all the time, and it’s difficult to make sure the ones that they internalized are positive.
For the sake of transparency, there are times when I just panic. Just because we’re adults, doesn’t mean it doesn’t affect us. But I’ve found knowing I’m doing all I can to slow the progress of hate calms me. I believe parents have a personal responsibility to do all we can to raise children who will make the world a better place. For this reason, my number one goal is to raise an inclusive child.
In simple terms, an inclusive child is one who will grow up to reject the multitude of hateful, angry messages we hear on a daily basis. An inclusive child will take a stand against bullying, racism, sexism, and all of the other horrible sentiments that we hear all too often.
Read below for four subtle ways to encourage an inclusive child.
I believe raising a creative child is one of the fundamental ways to be on the right side of history. An imaginative child sees the value in his independent thoughts, and will be occupied by learning how to build, when many others are determined to destroy.
Creative children often see the world through a unique lens. Having been an imaginative child myself, I am well aware of the struggle of holding on to your creativity in the age of uniformity and standardized tests. But it is worth it, and one day, creative people will change the world.
We can all recall a time we saw someone being mistreated. But how each of us responded during that time was likely different. I hope to raise my son to stand up for those who have been left behind and speak up when play gets rough or mean-spirited. Standing up for what’s right is often not easy, but it is always admirable.
You can help to discourage bullying by educating your children about the inherent value of all people and their rights to fair treatment. This can be done by having a candid discussion or exposing them to media that discusses bullying in an age-appropriate way.
There is beauty in difference. Talk to your child early on about how he doesn&;t have to have a favorite – it’s okay to like multiple things at once. Read books with him about children who are different from him. Expose him to different languages, colors, and images. Research has shown one of the key ways to decrease hateful messaging in children is to introduce them to figures who are different from them. As they find ways to connect with more and more people, inequality will become a progressively more confusing concept.
Emphasize the good in people
My son is young, but I know that one day he will have someone he cares for let him down. My goal is to help him understand, when those moments come, that people are multi-faceted. We all go through our fair share of pain at the hand of someone we cared for, but how often are we able to remember that even good people are capable of bad things? The overwhelming majority of humans have decent intentions.
By keeping that in the back of my mind and spreading it to my son, it will be much easier to fight off the calluses that often affects our hearts. Be prepared to discuss hard topics teach your child our loved ones may hurt us, but if they show that they have positive intentions, we may be able to forgive them.
We need more inclusive children to become inclusive adults. It won’t happen overnight, and it won’t be easy, but if we are committed to raising children who treat others fairly, the world will become a better place.
About the author:
Rochaun Meadows-Fernandez is a writer who specializes in sociology, health, and parenting. Her work has appeared in Healthline, Yes! Magazine, HuffPost, Allure, and many other publications. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter or check out her website.
- Miao K. Qian, et al. “A long-term effect of perceptual individuation training on reducing implicit bias in preschool children.” Child Development. October 12 2017. Retrieved December 8 2017. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/wol1/doi/10.1111/cdev.12971/full.