How to Help Children Celebrate the Differences

Parents understand it is important for children to celebrate the differences of others. Here are a few strategies that can help children value their unique friendships.

By Momentous Institute | Jul 08, 2019
Help Children Celebrate Differences

Parents want to see their children develop solid friendships. There is nothing sweeter than seeing children grow up with best friends, attending school together, playing sports or even just spending time watching their favorite movies. As children get older, they often learn more about race, culture and politics and how their understanding of identity may differ from their friends. When the racial, cultural or political differences amongst friends are realized during this time of a child’s life, it can cause fractures in relationships unless they learn how to embrace one another as they are. Parents have an opportunity to shape their children to believe differences amongst friends are positive and should be celebrated. Here are three strategies to help children celebrate cultural differences in friendships:

1) Be open to talking about race and culture.

Often, children formulate negative ideas about other cultures through television, news, social media or other sources, and parents feel ill-equipped to engage in these sometimes uncomfortable conversations around cultural differences. Momentous Institute encourages parents to lean in despite the discomfort to help children understand that other cultures are worthy of respect and kindness, regardless of disagreements. To help talk with your children, get creative! The American Pediatrics Association recommends parents, “visit museums, check out library books about other cultures or even cook meals from other cultures,” as a way to enjoy differences.

2) Encourage children to ask thoughtful and respectful questions of their friends.

A good example includes, “I don’t know what it’s like to be from your culture. Would you be willing to share more about your family’s traditions with me?” Children are naturally curious, so let them use their curiosity to their advantage as they build bridges with friends from very different backgrounds. Asking questions is a powerful life practice in any scenario, but especially amongst children because it moves them to practice empathy.

3) Share your own experiences.

All adults have witnessed conflicts among people from varying backgrounds due to a lack of understanding or lack of empathy. Momentous Institute encourages parents to talk about what they have seen with their children and what they may have learned through the experience. It is important to lead children by example and show them the impact of appreciating the complexities of different people.