“Mommy, why does that boy have different colour skin to me?”
Our beautiful children ask us questions that can be tricky to answer at times, don’t they?
In light of what’s happened recently in our country and all over the world, actually, I thought I’d write this piece to give you a bit of a peek into how we are raising our children to be more tolerant.
Aside from being a happy (slightly crazy) mixed-race family – my husband is German and I’m from Sri Lanka – we also have the fortune of living in Cape Town, one of the most diverse and beautiful cities in the world, filled with people of all colours and cultures.
Whilst we absolutely love the diversity our hometown offers, it also poses a difficult challenge when it comes to raising kids. How do I raise my girls to be tolerant of all people?
This is a daunting task for all parents but is of utmost importance. To help you with it, I’ve collected four tips for raising tolerant kids.
1. You Can’t Teach Kids to be Colour-Blind
Ever wonder why toy stores are so bright and colourful? It’s because colour is one of the first things that kids learn to recognise.
While you can’t stop your kids from noticing different skin colours or physical characteristics, you can make sure to teach them that what matters is what is on the inside, and that we should celebrate our differences and the things that make us unique.
2. Encourage Curiosity
Don’t be the parent who shushes their kid when things like race differences are brought up.
Teach your children to ask questions instead of judging, in order to better understand differences instead of just being afraid of the unknown.
By supporting free-thinking mindsets you’ll teach your kids that they don’t need to subscribe to a group mentality when it comes to acceptance, and not to judge before they know.
3. Introduce them to Variety
Your child won’t learn to be comfortable with cultural differences unless they are exposed to them.
This is way easier than it sounds, and can be a lot of fun!
- It can be as easy as eating different foods from time to time, or showing them pictures from around the world.
- Introduce them to foreign languages or accents in a fun way (we love copying accents from movies)
- Take them to zoo and chat about the animals and which countries they come from.
- If you can, traveling is another great way to expose them to food, languages and customs from around the world.
4. Lead by Example
Like most behaviours, tolerance is better taught by watching than listening.
Unlike the previous tips, this one could prove quite tricky.
Sometimes it might mean that we have to unlearn habits we’ve had for many years, or think about small things that are just a part of our everyday routines. Or we may need to make an effort to make friends with neighbours or co-workers we normally wouldn’t but it is worth it for the end result.
Basically, you can talk the talk, but if you walk the walk then your kids can follow in your footsteps, and make our little corner of this Earth a better place!