Raising includers is not as easy as you would think. When my kids start school, I hope they make friends and are kind to everyone. But is that possible?
Humans are quick to build judgement as a species and get set in their own ways, to the point of excluding without conscious thought. We see it all the time. People tend to prefer to be with people who speak their language, have lived in the same city and/or follow their own customs. In most communities, you will see families subdivided into sub groups. The children in turn prefer playing with kids they feel are their own. Consequently, you will see children excluding someone who doesn’t look or sound like them.
No child does it on purpose. They just subconsciously mimic their parents’ behaviour. Parents too, do not do the same on purpose but the sad truth is that it takes a lot of conscious and mindful effort on our part to make sure our children understand our acceptance of different ways of life.
Oh yes! We all say, we want our children to have a global mindset. How many of us however make the effort to ensure our children are exposed to a diverse environment.
If you are a parent who wants to make sure their child does not fall into the groupism trap, here are ways you can ensure to do that.
Raising Includers with These Steps
Step Out of Your Comfort Zone
It is not easy for us to explore the world. It takes a lot of self awareness and desire to step out of our comfort zone to do so. We have our friends. We hold our ways close. It is so easy for us to keep going on our way. The way we have been brought up is comfortable. Besides that, inviting unknowns into our homes can lead to subconscious fears of being judged. We need to be above that. We are all just people, living our lives in our ways. Doing our best to raise our families, the way we know best. The judgement on both sides is unnecessary and non existent.
Invite your child’s friends over to your home. Gone are the days when mothers used to be home and neighbors could just play at each others’ houses. Working parents means we have to make the extra bit of effort for our children. Yes, our homes are messy at times. Yes, it could also be inconvenient. But children bloom knowing their friends are welcome in their home.
My house is a hub for both my kids’ friends. It is always wonderful seeing the children interact and learn about each other’s cultures. I too, find it fascinating how differently a child sees our home when compared to their own. But it is all going towards their growth.
I notice often it is hard for most parents to reciprocate and invite my child over. I show them the grace of accepting they have their reasons for my child enjoying with their friends is more important than waiting for reciprocation. The point at the end is for the children to grow together.
Talk to your child about being kind and generous and loving to their friends. Talk to them about how important it is to be accepting of the different experiences and ways they witness. My son recently had friends judge him on what he likes and being a non vegetarian. These opportunities make your child stronger in their beliefs, yes. It is also a learning moment for them to be tolerant of others views and to never judge and they are being judged.
It is important enough to make the most of every moment in life. For every single year is nothing but a culmination of all the moments you make special. What is more essential is that we share those moments with people who may not know what the significance of our celebration is. I have had the privilege to often being included in many a Christmases, Onams and Eid celebrations and that is why I have a wonderful sense and desire to include any and all in my life’s special days!
We all tend to do it. We label a whole group of people based on our personal experience or the stories of our parents. You may deny it to yourself, but your child sees the world through your eyes. And if your comments, stories are off handed and biased, that’s how they will see the world. Make sure you are aware of what you say when you meet someone new, or come across someone in an instance. Smiling and just having an open conversation goes a LONG way in teaching your child to be open to including all others in their day and lives.
Yes, talk to them to be aware of predators, BUT make sure your child is kind NOT wary. Be open to having agreeable dialogue with strangers and old friends.
Be kind to those around you, help out with your child when you can. Help a friend move. Be nice to someone in front of them. Go out of your way to be an includer yourself in order for your child to learn from you.
If your find someone being ignorant about your own culture or group, educate them. Do not talk badly behind them for their response which was clearly from being ignorant.
Read, Read, Read
Reading about the world, societies, sub cultures, etc is the biggest way to show your child the world is their oyster.
Make sure you make the effort to read this easy to read book to being mindful of raising a global citizen.
Follow my profile on Instagram for frequent updates on books that we come across and the world of books we open up to you.
What are ways YOU would suggest to do the same?