We live in a diverse world and as parents; it is up to us to raise respectful, culturally aware children.
As adults, we have all the tools we need to adapt to differences in culture or ethnicity. Children, on the other hand, are still learning all about cultural diversity.
Now, more than ever, we have to instill the importance of tolerance, acceptance, and equality to our children.
Without this understanding, your young one can end up in trouble at school or have challenges making friends.
The reality these days is that we live in a diverse society and our children need to be able to grow and thrive in the world they are inheriting.
It is our responsibility to teach our kids the value of embracing our differences. This way, they will grow up to be well-educated individuals who see the world beyond color, ethnicity, and cultural background.
But how to start? How do you raise culturally aware children who respect diversity?
Check out these tips:
Parents Need to Teach the Kids about Diversity
As your child’s first teacher, you have to introduce the concept of diversity early on.
Let them know that all people are different and that’s okay!
People do not look alike; they do not dress alike nor celebrate the same thing but that does not change the fact that we are all human beings.
Teach these lessons one step at a time.
You can start with compassion, tolerance, and respect.
With that foundation in place, you can shift focus to appreciating the beauty of different cultures.
Providing books with topics about race, religious beliefs, ethnicity, etc., is a terrific way to introduce the concept of diversity, especially in young kids.
Start with books like “It’s Okay to be Different”, “Same, Same but Different”, “Don’t Call Me Special”, and “Over the Moon” to get you started.
Choose books that feature landmarks from different countries to inspire your child to see the world.
Besides developing awareness of different cultures, reading helps them increase their literacy and develop effective communication skills.
Cultural Immersion Through Travel
If you have the budget for it, take your child on a cross-border trip.
You can travel by land, air, or sea to discover what the world has to offer.
Traveling to different countries is an effective way of letting your kids dive headfirst into new cultures.
Closer to home, you can visit the ethnic neighborhoods in your own city.
In a big city, there are likely entire neighborhoods like China Town in San Francisco or Little Italy in Chicago.
In smaller cities, you might go shopping at an Asian grocery store as an introduction to the different foods that people eat around the world.
Practice Diverse Languages as part of Parenting
Another way to introduce the concept of cultural variety to young children is to practice a new language together.
Improving your child’s vocabulary to include other languages is one way to expose them to the world around them.
Speaking a different language is also a useful skill to have later in life!
Start with basic expressions, such as saying “I love you” in different languages.
Teach your child how to say “Thank You” or “Sorry” in say, Mandarin, French, or Spanish. These expressions may be simple but they will come in handy when making friends in a diverse neighborhood!
You can also encourage language learning by letting your young one watch cartoons or download games in a foreign language.
You might think watching TV shows or playing games in a different language could be too much for a child but do not underestimate their ability to soak up different languages.
Kids are like sponges, they absorb all sorts of information.
Studies of the human brain show that children are hard-wired for language learning up to the age of five. By age seven the wiring in the brain changes and learning new languages becomes more challenging.
Provide Cultural Life Experiences for Your Child
As your child gains more understanding about the world’s many cultures, take them to cross-ethnic Festivals and events that celebrate different ethnic groups or holidays.
By letting them experience a potpourri of cultures first hand, he or she will learn all about the ways of life in different countries!
Being a Good Role Model – A Critical Aspect of Parenting
Standing up against cultural insensitivity, ignorance, racial bias, or racism is the best way to teach your child about respecting others and accepting our differences.
Teach them the value of accepting others beyond the color of their skin or the language they speak.
As an authority figure in your child’s life, you have to demonstrate tolerance through your own words, actions, and mindset so they too, can speak, act, and think without hate or bias.
Remember that your young one will model your behavior so providing a good example of cultural awareness and acceptance will help your child develop emotional regulation skills in all areas of life.
While conversations about cultural and racial diversity with children are not easy, tolerance and acceptance are the foundation of a better world.
Hate, racism, and intolerance have no place in modern society. These negative traits can make your young one’s school years difficult and make it harder for them to connect with others.
Cultural awareness and the celebration of diversity starts at home.
As parents, we must constantly challenge ourselves to raise loving, respectful, and well-adjusted children.