Social excluding is actually a form of bullying and probably not a behavior you want to encourage in your child. Young children are naturally inclusive but soon learn from those around them the behavior of exclusion. Here are 9 ways you can participate in helping your child be inclusive rather than exclusive.
Check Your Privilege
No matter what you say, children will do what they see you do. If you only socialize with people who look and think just like you, that’s exclusive behavior. If you want your kids to be inclusive, you need to be as well.
Support Their Uniqueness
While it may be embarrassing for you to have your daughter to wear a mismatched assortment of her favorite clothes to the store or your son to wear a tiara, try and stifle your desire to encourage them to conform to more rigid societal norms.
One of the best ways to help your kids understand their own privileged position is to expose them to the less fortunate. Whether this is serving lunch in a soup kitchen or even volunteering at an animal shelter, every experience will help them develop empathy.
Encourage Diverse Friendships
While it might be inconvenient to have your child play soccer in a poorer community or take dance classes in an ethnically diverse community, it may be worth the extra effort. This effort will give your child a chance to learn more about other cultures and give them a chance to befriend them.
Encourage Them to Reach Out
Again, your kids are unlikely to do what they don’t see you doing, so make sure you are reaching out to the social outcasts in your community and then encourage them to do the same at school.
Let Them Make Mistakes
While you may hope if you give your child the freedom to invite who they want to birthday parties and other events that they will invite everyone, they might not. It’s important to let them do this. You can certainly talk to them about it, but forcing them to be inclusive will probably not help you accomplish your goal.
Trust Your Child
Sometimes, your child may exclude other children for good reason. For instance, some children with special needs can actually develop a sense of entitlement or believe that they can treat others poorly as a result of their disability. If your child shies away from another child, trust that maybe they have a good reason.
Choose Your Battles
Choosing your battle carefully is applicable to almost every area of raising kids. While you are trying to raise inclusive children, you also need to give them some freedom to find their own way. There is a time to “force” your child to invite someone or play with someone they don’t want to, but those times should be few and far between and chosen very carefully.
Listen to Others
While it is perfectly normal to want to believe the best of your child, it is important to accept that at some time almost all children will exhibit some form of bullying or exclusive behavior. You can’t help them move through it if you refuse to see it for what it is.
Originally posted on Karen’s Odyssey Profile.