How to Raise a Kid to Be Open-Minded
Diversity is something you are exposed to everywhere you go. People practice different religions, are of different nationalities and have different beliefs. Diversity makes the world go round, keeps conversations interesting and creates a melting pot of educational opportunities. As a parent, you want your child to grow up with an open mind, encourage him to accept differences and provide him with the desire to educate himself and make his own thoughtful decisions. To ensure that your child goes down the path of open-mindedness, start by teaching him about tolerance 1.
Monitor your own attitude and open-mindedness. Kids learn from the example you (and members of your family) set, which means that if you portray a tolerant attitude and an open mind, they follow suit. To do this, treat diversity and difference with respect, treat everyone equally and refrain from judging or belittling others for their choices and beliefs in front of your kids.
Teach your children the difference between open-mindedness and tolerance for different races, sexes, religions and beliefs but also explain that tolerance and open-mindedness do not require you or your kids to tolerate illegal, unacceptable or dangerous behavior from others. For example, make it a habit to explain to your children that everyone is free to practice his own religion, but it is not okay to direct violence towards others who have different religious beliefs from your own.
Choose books, games, movies and activities that show a diverse selection of characters. You may not realize it, but exposing your kids only to Caucasian characters, for example, might make them think that white skin is the norm and all others are different. The key is to teach your kids to be open-minded enough to realize that there is no one "normal," but rather that everyone is different.
Educate your kids -- and yourself -- about the different beliefs of their friends or family members. For example, if your child comes home from school during the holiday season and asks you why David celebrates Hanukkah instead of Christmas, use it as an opportunity to teach your kids about Judaism. Just because your family doesn’t celebrate Hanukkah doesn’t mean you can’t learn what it's all about, so that your children are familiar with religions other than their own.
Encourage your kids to ask questions about what they don’t know or what confuses them. When you make it clear that you’re available to answer any questions they have about what it means for someone to have certain beliefs, be a particular religion, be from a foreign country, speak a foreign language or have a different color skin from your own. Kids are curious, and encouraging them to ask questions and learn about diversity in every aspect of life helps them develop an open mind as they get older.
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