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conversation-hearts-valentine-roommomspot-volunteerspot-games1-300x225Teaching Your Child to
Appreciate the Differences
That Make People Special
Reprinted from
Prevention Services Network
Family Resource Center Newsletter February 2016
Parents are uniquely positioned to guide their children to appreciate the differences that make each of us special. As a result of world events and heightened awareness of the relationship between bullying and school violence, there has been increased attention placed on the diversity that shapes the culture of the United States.

Explaining diversity in a way that is understandable to children can be a challenging pro-cess.  Read more…Even when you have done your best to teach the importance of respect and treating others fairly, your child may still encounter hate and prejudice through the Internet and other forms of media, and even in their school or neighborhood. Teaching you child about appreciating diversity will help she/he do well in our diverse society, and promote good self-esteem and mental health.

It’s never too early or too late to talk about diversity. Here are some tips on how to get started:
 Recognize that you may consciously or unconsciously harbor negative feel-ings, biases and prejudices about others. Be aware of how you speak and act in front of your children. The seeds of respect and intolerance are planted when children are young. If your children observe behaviors that promote tolerance and embrace di-versity, they are more likely to exhibit these values as they grow and mature.
 Read books or watch videos with tolerance, diversity and multicultural themes with your children. Have discussions after each book or film to address any questions or concerns they may have.
 If you ever hear or see your child doing anything that does not embrace diver-sity, immediately talk to him or her about bias and prejudice. Let your child know that bias, prejudice and stereotyping are never acceptable. Establish open chan-nels of communication with your children so that they feel recognized, understood, lis-tened to, and respected.
 Buy your child toys and games that celebrate the diverse culture in which we live. Don’t buy anything that promotes intolerance.
 Point out stereotypes, acts of prejudice and bias depicted in TV, movies, com-puter games and other media to help your child recognize unacceptable behavior or attitudes.
 Encourage your childrens’ friendships with people who are different from them.
 Work with your child’s school or PTA to start a diversity book list or diversity organization. Let your child’s school board know that diversity in schools is important to you.
 Enroll your child in schools, camps, learning programs, day care and after-school programs that celebrate diversity.
 Integrate culturally diverse artwork, literature or music in your home.
 Invite a friend of a different cultural background to your house for a family meal or holiday. Ask the person to prepare a cultural dish or share stories with your family.
 Acknowledge and respect that your children’s problems at school are important to them. Provide emotional encouragement and then brainstorm together to find constructive solutions to help them deal with their problems

 Be honest about differences between people. Tell children that people are not all the same; Explain that we all experience the world in different ways and those experiences are important. Help your children to understand the viewpoints and ideas of others.
 Remember that talking about tolerance and diversity is an ongoing process. It can-not be summed up in a single conversation. Establish a “no subject is taboo” policy, this way your children know they can talk to you about anything.

Some simple terms to help you explain diversity to your child
What is diversity?
 A variety of something, such as an opinion, color, style or ethnicity.
When embracing diversity these are some key words you should know:
 Uniqueness – only one of its kind
 Appreciate – value somebody or something highly; understand the meaning or importance.
The following terms prevent one from fully embracing diversity:
 Prejudice – to judge someone or something before you know all the facts.
 Stereotype – to group people in categories based on single characteristics.
 Bias – an attitude that always favors one way of feeling or acting over any other.

Top Ten Tips for Kids
Appreciate the differences that make each of us special.
1. Never make fun of people who are different from you in any way. Accept that everyone is special in his or her own way.
2. Start a new trend; say only nice things about everyone.
3. Next time your parents take you out to eat, try a food from another culture.
4. Go to the library and check out different books about kids from different cultures.
5. Remember that what someone looks like on the outside has nothing to do with what is in-side.
6. Treat everyone you meet how you would like to be treated.
7. If you are being teased or bullied, tell an adult you trust. Show that you are confident in yourself by ignoring the bully and walking away.
8. Ask different people what they think about things. Respect their opinions.
9. Never stereotype a whole group of people. Treat each person as an individual who has his or her own ideas and opinions.
10. Believe in yourself! Just do your best, and be proud of the different things that make you who you are!!

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