Thoughtful Ways to Start Teaching Your Children About Inclusion Today

By Ava Roman

Inclusivity and diversity matter in all areas of life. Your child isn’t born with hate, but the world might try to sway them one way or the other. As a parent, you have the most influence over your kids when they’re young — and you can teach them how to love others unconditionally, no matter their backgrounds. Here are some great ways to introduce inclusion to your children, which can motivate them to bring everyone into their social circle and learn to appreciate all the wins of diversity.

1. Work Through Empathy Exercises

Empathy can help your children know how to act with love and compassion toward people who might be different from them. Though they don’t always understand their friends’ struggles, they can still support them. Spending time in play with your child is a great way to teach them about empathy, and working through certain exercises or plays with toys can teach them how to be kind to others. By fostering empathy, you can teach your kids to stand up for the people who need it and amplify unheard voices.

Emphasize commonalities for your children. While they may notice differences — which you should encourage, as it’s a great way to show them various cultures and worldviews exist — you should point out what they have in common with other people. Even if they have a varying background from some of their peers, they can still find similarities in themselves. People aren’t that different, and finding that middle ground is essential to building empathy and seeing situations from other perspectives.

2. Take Them to New Places

Staying in your little piece of the world might be one of the most detrimental things you can do in your journey to teach your kids about inclusivity. Your children need to see places that differ from what they’re used to, as it’ll help them understand how other people live. As they age, they may grow more closed off if they see some areas as “bad.” You can also enroll them in another school that introduces them to kids of other backgrounds, not just those who live near your house.

For example, going to a park with several amenities can show your kids how public spaces are inclusive to differently-abled people. Budget is a major factor for many areas — as they opt for the highest-quality materials within their price range — but it may also mean fewer amenities overall. Showing your children a variety of parks can be an affordable and fun way to introduce them to various accessibility features they may not have known about before.

Studying abroad makes a difference in people’s lives, as 98% of travelers reflect on their cultural biases after experiencing life in another country. While your child may still be far too young to even think of studying abroad, you can still take the opportunity to visit new places on a family vacation. Every trip can be a learning opportunity and your frequent travels to new places might encourage your kids to continue traveling into adulthood — or study abroad if they go to college.

3. Include Diverse Books in Your Library

Books can influence how kids think about certain topics and are a great way to start conversations you may not have personal experience in. Find an age-appropriate book that discusses what you want your child to learn about. You may wish to preview the book so you can anticipate any specific questions they may have, then research the answers so you can satisfy their curiosity with an honest response.

Reading has more power than you might think. The right literature can steer children away from forming bad habits or teach them new values to uphold. What you put in front of them could potentially influence the person they turn out to be, so it’s important to choose something that will build them into a better person.

4. Explain Things in Simple Terms

Though children are open to learning about anything, they often don’t understand concepts the same way adults can. You may have to explain things to them in simpler terms. The better you know a topic, the easier it will be for you to break it into digestible pieces for your kids.

For example, your children might be too young to understand the concept of privilege, but you can teach them not to treat people differently based on what they own or don’t own. Over time, that knowledge will build from their experiences, thanks to the foundational blocks you gave them.

5. Model the Behavior You Want to See

You are your child’s first role model — they’ll look to you for examples of how they should act in every situation. If they see you react with disgust to someone for any reason, your kid will pick up on your behavior and mimic it. Ensure you’re only displaying the behavior you want your children to replicate in the future.

You should know how strongly you can influence your child to lean toward justice. Modeling positive behavior can help them through difficulties and inspire them to include others in daily activities. Parents who encouraged their child frequently throughout the day saw behavior changes for the better, proving your influence can change how your child sees or acts in a situation. Always remember how you behave toward other people while your kids are around — they’re watching and learning from you.

Set a Good Example by Teaching Your Kids About Inclusivity

You want your children to grow into happy, healthy adults who are world citizens and help everyone they can. Those values start in the home they grow up in, meaning you can influence much more than you think as a parent.

Along with these points, encourage an open, sincere discussion with your kids. Let them know they can come to you with any questions and you’ll always answer them to the best of your ability. Doing so will also grow trust between you, showing your child they can always come to you with anything.

Ava Roman (she/her) is the Managing Editor of Revivalist, a women’s lifestyle magazine that empowers women to live their most authentic life. When she is not writing you’ll find Ava in a yoga class, advocating for body positivity, whipping up something delicious in the kitchen, or smashing the patriarchy.