Inclusivity is always important, especially in an ever-diversifying world. Your child may encounter people who don’t look or behave like them, and they need to learn that celebrating the differences is a great way to understand other people and foster great relationships. Learning these fundamentals starts at a young age, so you play an important factor in teaching your child how to celebrate diversity in all its forms. Try these clever ways to implement inclusivity in your child’s life.
1. Monitor Their Media
If your children are young, you should be previewing the shows they watch before they watch them. That way, you’ll be able to tell if they’re worthwhile and send good messages to your children. When you find a show that seems good to watch, watch it with them. Explain some of the messages of equality and inclusivity if they can’t grasp the topics yet. With you guiding them, they’re sure to pick up the messages they need to digest at their age.
2. Read to Them
Most books nowadays try to make a push for inclusivity. While you may not have grown up with the most inclusive of kids’ books, you’ll find plenty of authors who strive to include characters of all backgrounds, disabilities and belief systems in their books. Turn this reading time into a routine. Children absorb information more easily when something is implemented into their routine. By reading inclusive books to them, inclusivity will become second nature.
3. Support Their Individuality
Encourage them when your kid wants to do something against the “norm” for kids their age. Praise their drawings and creative endeavors. Teaching them that it’s okay to stand out and be themselves can teach them that individuality is essential and blending in with the crowd is not necessary. They can be who they want to be, as can others, without feeling the need to conform to what is the most popular trend at the moment.
Teach them to foster inclusivity when they choose their friends, too. Encourage them to make friends with everyone in their class, no matter how different or similar they are to your child. Accepting all people will show every one of their classmates they are valued and loved, which is a vital message for children growing up in the world.
4. Introduce Them to People Making Waves
To further teach your child about inclusivity, learn about people making waves in an area they otherwise wouldn’t — making them trailblazers in their field. Troy Kotsur, the first deaf actor nominated for an Academy Award, is one such person to teach your child. By seeing the strides people make when they’re underrepresented in certain fields, your child can start to appreciate the opportunities these people are creating for others like them.
5. Volunteer With Them
No matter their age, your child should be able to accompany you to volunteer somewhere in your local community. Whether you volunteer at an animal shelter or a soup kitchen, your child will get to see people from different backgrounds.
Volunteering can help your child build empathy for others, and it can support their mental health and make them more grateful for the possessions and experiences they have. Volunteering at a young age may foster their desire to give back as they grow up, but they will also understand that every human has a story that deserves to be heard. This practice may encourage them to include people in school and throughout the rest of their lives.
6. Teach Them the Foundations
Does your child know what to do if they find out someone in their class is being bullied, especially for something they have no control over? Teach your child that people who are different from them should be loved and accepted, just as your child is. That way, they can stand up to bullies and advocate for inclusivity in every part of their life.
Depending on your child’s age, they may not be able to grasp the more nuanced concepts, but you can still teach them that everyone deserves to be treated the same — with respect and love — no matter who they are, where they’re from or what they look like.
7. Model Your Behavior
You are your child’s first role model, meaning they’ll be looking up to you for how they should act in certain situations. The adults in the household should create an excellent image to teach the children how to include others. Instead of commenting on the appearance of someone different from your family, consider talking about their achievements and describing them in other ways. Teach your child how to include people no matter who they are.
Celebrate Diversity in All Its Forms
Your child looks to you to teach them how the world works. You have a chance to shape their mindset before they go into the world and learn from their peers. Therefore, you should make sure the foundation they stand upon is solid and inclusive to everyone. Luckily, you have several tools to help you teach your child the best values from a young age.
Ava Roman (she/her) is the Managing Editor of Revivalist, a women’s lifestyle magazine that empowers women to live their most authentic life. When Ava is not writing you’ll find her in a yoga class, advocating for body positivity, whipping up something delicious in the kitchen, or smashing the patriarchy.