6 Ways to Teach Your Kids to Be Inclusive

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Global Diversity Practice defines diversity as “empowering people by respecting and appreciating what makes them different” and “[allowing] for the exploration of these differences in a safe, positive, and nurturing environment.” Furthermore, the website provides a simple definition of inclusion: “Inclusion is a sense of belonging. Inclusive cultures make people feel respected and valued for who they are as an individual or group.”

Diversity and inclusion are terms that are becoming more and more relevant in today’s world. Organizations work hard to provide services to individuals and groups who are underserved. It is our duty to continue to learn about these terms and to properly implement them into society.

In elementary, middle, and high schools, learning is not the only aspect of one’s education. Children and teens alike also learn about bullying, peer pressure, and other forms of mistreatment — and not through a textbook. Some kids are the bullies, some are bullied, and some stand idly by. It’s best to teach children to be inclusive from a young age. Here are a few tips to help you.

Teach and Implement Positive Values

Companies often stamp a set of values to their name. Some value technology, some value friendship, some value loyalty. What values do you, as a parent, set forth in your household? Children learn from their parents. If you teach and implement important and positive values in your home, your kids will learn to follow suit.

What values are important for a child to learn? Parents.com suggests that open communication, empathy, determination, respect, honesty, and curiosity, and accountability are seven values that parents should teach their children by age 10. These values are important ones. Your kids should be able to implement them by the time they enter middle school, which is a crucial time when cliques and social groups begin to form in school and values are tested.

Provide Opportunities to Meet New People

Between school, church, sports, clubs, neighbors, extracurricular activities, and community-based clubs and organizations, a child has many opportunities to meet different groups of people. For example, if your child has shown an interest in soccer, sign them up for a league. If your teen enjoys singing and dancing, encourage them to enroll in your community’s local theatre production. If your middle schooler enjoys helping you garden, sign them up to help with gardening projects in local parks. While you may need to buy a new 25-100 foot garden hose for your child to be apart of the club, they’ll learn skills as well as meet plenty of new people.

Provide opportunities for your children to meet and build friendships with different people. They’ll be more likely to be more accepting of others and to be friends with more people, which decreases their chances of being bullied, too.

Be Friends With Kind People

You can’t choose who your children are friends with, but you can encourage them to be friends with kind and respectful people. If you notice your kids are turning to bullies, it may be a sign that your child is choosing to become associated with a bad crowd. Explain to your children that keeping a distance from people who are mean and manipulative is the best plan.

Reach Out to Those Who Are Alone

Schools are often seen as being divided by cliques or social groups, which can make a lunchroom feel like a nightmare for many kids. Children who are different or stand out, such as students who are part of the 650 million people in the world who have a disability, can have a very difficult time in school socially. This is where teaching your child about diversity and inclusion comes in.

If your child has a group of friends, encourage your child to be the person who asks the kid sitting alone at lunch to eat with them and who asks a student without a partner in a school project to join their group. Simply including those who don’t have any or many friends can drastically change one’s day, week, month, and even life. Teach your children to be aware of people who are outcasted by society and to do something about it even if it’s not something a “popular” person would do.

Speak to Adults When Necessary

It’s also important for children to know that going to an adult is crucial when it comes to bullying and other forms of mistreatment. Whether it be on the school bus or during history class, after school basketball practice, or musical rehearsal, bullying is never okay. Teach your children to speak with an adult when bullying takes place, whether they are the victim or someone else is.

Be Smart on Social Media

While social media can be a fun thing to scroll through from time to time, many kids, pre-teens, and teens use it all too often, and with bad motives. Some kids and teens use it to cyberbully, name-call, and harass other kids, and some get away with it because it doesn’t physically happen at school. For example, if a teen was in a car accident, another teen may post about how it was that teen’s fault. Not only can information get misconstrued, but legal issues can arise. Personal injury claims can be specific in some states; for instance, in Colorado, those making personal injury claims relating to an auto accident have three years to file a formal lawsuit against the individual at fault. A social media post that bullies, name-calls, or harasses those involved can truly do plenty of damage.

Teach your children that social media is supposed to be a fun space to share pieces of information about your life — certainly not every detail. Sharing pictures from time to time and staying clear of drama and other peoples’ personal business is best practice to avoid negative and potentially dangerous situations.

Bullying is a serious issue. Not only can it lead to social outcasting and negative mental health, but it can lead to potentially dangerous situations and even legal troubles. Starting at a young age, teach your children positive values, to be friends with different groups of people as well as with kind individuals, and to reach out to those who are alone. Speaking to adults when necessary is important as well, and being aware of social media and the issues it can cause is important as children grow up and use the internet more and more. Teach your children about diversity and inclusion, and continue to implement positive values and strategies in your home and community.

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