Regardless of your parenting style, your children are impressionable. Outside influences like their peers, the media or even other adults can help build up or pollute their innocent minds. That’s why it’s so important to teach children unity in diversity at an early age.
Without your guiding hand, your kids are susceptible to the prejudice and hatred that exist in the world. It’s up to you to show them that diversity is the glue that holds our society together. That loving thy neighbor applies to everyone.
In order to teach children unity in diversity, you have to apply the lesson to every aspect of their lives. Here are simple ways that you can help them understand differences in people, and how to be tolerant of those differences.
5 Ways to Teach Children About Diversity:
Steer children towards things that reflect unity in diversity
Introduce your children to books, movies, music and TV shows that shed positive light on diversity.
What you bring home should provide entertainment value while teaching them a valuable lesson about acceptance. Anything from an interracial buddy cop movie to a CD by a gay rights icon would enforce positive associations with minorities.
The content doesn’t need to be as blatantly preachy as an after-school special. However, it should highlight differences like diverse cultural and racial backgrounds, a range of family lifestyles and nontraditional gender roles.
Bring unity in diversity to the classroom
Image courtesy of Paul Gooddy / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Take advantage of any academic opportunities that will help your children to better understand fundamental differences.
Most public schools offer classes that focus on cultures and religions across the world. If they don’t at your children’s school, encourage them to write about non-conventional historical figures for their homework projects. Let them learn about heroes who were also minorities, like Rosa Parks or Harvey Milk, on their own time.
In the private education system, most schools offer courses and programs that explore cultural and religious diversity to teach students about the world’s problems in a historical context, while being sensitive to different beliefs and cultures.
Encourage your children to join multi-cultural clubs
Whether they’re in elementary or high school, encourage your kids to participate in extra-curricular activities that foster tolerance of diversity in and out of the classroom.
A great example of a multi-cultural club is the Model United Nations. The real UN is the embodiment of people working together in spite of their fundamental differences. In turn, the model UN will teach children about unity in diversity and working through differences.
Encourage your children to join clubs and groups that exist outside their natural comfort zone. Even if they’re heterosexual, they can join a LGBTQ club as a show of support. They can join different religious or cultural specific groups to learn more about their history and practices.
Enroll children in exchange programs
Ask your children if they’d be interested in enrolling in an exchange program offered by their schools, service club or even a private business.
If your son or daughter loves to travel, exchange programs can be the perfect adventure. Travel is a great way to teach children unity in diversity. Depending on the program, they would live with a host family in a different country for anywhere from a few months to a year. In exchange, the host family’s child would typically live with your family for that period of time.
Exchange programs are a great way for them to experience the traditions, customs, cuisine and arts of another culture. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see how another side of the world works, and the best part is they’ll have a blast.
Lead by example
The best way to teach your child the value of tolerance is to show it with your own actions.
Demonstrate your commitment to diversity through your business relationships and friendships. To teach children unity in diversity, bring your family to a place of worship, community picnics, anywhere that’s frequented by a wide range of people.
As your children grow, continue to create opportunities for them to interact with people who are racially or culturally different, or people who have disabilities. Instill the principles of empathy and compassion and acceptance in them and they’ll do the same for generations to come.
The final and most important thing that you can do to steer your children away from prejudice is to communicate. Answer their questions about people’s differences, regardless of how uncomfortable the topic makes you. Respond honestly and without bias, and your children will appreciate you for it.