An appreciation for diversity is critical to success in life, with research by the Boston Consulting Group showing that inclusive companies are 1.7 times more likely to be innovation leaders thanks to the diversity of their workforces.
And it’s never too early to start. Encouraging children to have a wide variety of friends, to experience different cultures, and to take inclusivity into account in their decisions can all help to promote diversity and inclusivity in an organic, meaningful way. If you are a parent with little children, the following ideas may inspire when it comes to helping them appreciate and effect diversity and inclusivity in their everyday lives.
Meeting friends from across the globe
Encourage your children to make friends from a wide variety of backgrounds. Doing so is a fantastic way to help them understand new ideas, habits, pastimes, beliefs, and foods!
Encourage them to learn a new language; in language schools, they may come across children from other countries and learn to communicate in a second language with fluency.
Travel is another important way for them to meet people from different parts of the world. As they get older, leisure travel can be replaced by camps, where they can spend more time with people from different backgrounds, cultures, and languages.
Knocking down stereotypes
One of the most important things you can do for your children is encouraging prejudice-free thinking. Doing so can begin by choosing gender-neutral games and toys that are based on your child’s interests rather than societal expectations. You can point out how different toys are marketed to girls and boys, helping your child understand how advertising can sway their choices and veer them off the path of their authentic interests.
History has shown that children have highly individual tastes when it comes to hobbies and interests. Many girls love cars and racing sets, and many boys enjoy imaginative and role play games. Encourage your children to be who they are from the start, and they will learn how to appreciate individuality in others.
You can also teach children about different types of families, including those comprising one or more LGBTQ+ parents. Children should know that at school, their friends may hail from many different types of families.
Addressing prejudice, discrimination and bullying
It is important for children to know that they can talk to you about instances of bullying and other negative behaviors at school. Reading material can help you broach difficult but important subjects such as racial discrimination, LGBTQ+ discrimination, disability discrimination, and bullying. If you read stories to your children or you read alongside them, just a few books that will provide excellent subjects for discussion include Wonder by R.J. Palacio, Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman, and It’s Okay to Be Different by Todd Parr.
An appreciation for diversity is a key factor to success in adulthood. Start teaching your children about this quality from the time they are tots. Find opportunities for them to meet children from different backgrounds, help them avoid stereotyping, and actively talk about matters such as prejudice against children with disabilities by encouraging open communication and reading important books.
A former nurse turned passionate freelance writer, Jennifer McKeen is a part-time youth worker committed to writing to bring change and understanding. Outside of work she enjoys running and rock climbing.