Guiding your child to become a kind, inclusive, and compassionate individual is important to most of us. It can be a daunting undertaking for any parent, but if we want our children to be part of an inclusive world, it's up to us to help them create it! As parents, we pass our values and beliefs along to our children every day through the things we say and the things we do – big and small.
If you think of humanity as a large family, then to be inclusive means that everyone has a rightful seat at the table. No one is excluded, marginalized, discriminated against, or left out. Everyone has something unique to offer.
Inclusivity is often described as something we should practise to benefit others, and while that's definitely not a bad reason, it should be more than just a moral obligation. Everyone benefits from an inclusive society, not just the people within communities who have been ‘othered'. When we are inclusive there is less division and instead, our human experience becomes enhanced through building relationships, and understanding other points of view. Recognising that our differences are precisely what makes the world more exciting, progressive and rewarding plays a huge part in embracing the fundamentals of inclusivity.
Discover four strategies from Bright Horizons experts on how to encourage your child to adopt an inclusive attitude…
Your child follows what you do even more than what you say, so it's important that your actions are sending the right message. This can be as simple as seeing you greeting your neighbours as you're out walking the dog and asking how they are. Be mindful of the way you speak about other families and people and speak up when you see acts of discrimination or racism. Be curious and reflective about your own biases and be willing to take on new perspectives.
It's unrealistic to expect children to be “best” friends with everyone all the time, but young children in particular can learn to be friendly, respectful, and compassionate in a group setting, such as nursery/school. Teach your child to be aware of other children who might be new or who might feel left out. For example, encourage your child to include another child who is sitting alone at lunch, playing alone, or who doesn't know anyone. Other opportunities to teach this kind of awareness and compassion can include the park, birthday parties or any other social gatherings where other children or family members are present.
Your child most likely asks a lot of questions, which is good, it's a great chance for you to educate! The world is a big place and we come from many religious, cultural, and ethnic backgrounds with their own values, perspectives, identities, and family makeups. Help your child to understand that differences are what make the world more interesting and complete, and that people who are different to us can help us learn and appreciate ideas and opinions beyond our own. Talk about and model how to respectfully share and learn about differences, as well as how to stand against discrimination in all its forms.
Children's books are a great vehicle for exploring differences in culture, race, and ability, especially when the literature depicts authentic characters involved in relatable situations. Below is a list of such books that you can introduce to your reading and storytelling routine.