Place your mask on first before supporting others.
This term is employed often when parents speak to each other about self-care, but it can be applied to teaching empathy and diversity too. Before a child can recognize valuable things in others they need to see they are valuable for who they actually are not what they have or what team they belong to. Our society is focused on things, on achievements and ” We are better than you because…” I know I actually fall under this snare a lot more than I want to confess. Examining our own biases and freedom is a good spot to start as older people and teaching children to have a secure sense of who they are, their culture and also to take pride in their individual passions is a start for our children.
It may seem to be counter-intuitive to educate pride in order to boost empathy but hear me out there. Let’s think about bullies for a moment. Why do most bullies feel the need to suppress another child? Reduced self-esteem, fear, absence of empathy, requirement for control… now shall we bring that to having a strong sense of personal. When a child is secure in their identity there is absolutely no reason to belittle another for being who they actually are. A secure child recognizes their own uniqueness and that clears the way to being able to understand the uniqueness of others.
Another piece of the puzzle is being subjected to and learning to be accepting of distinctions in the greater community. Diversity is not only distinctions that people can see, it is the tiny subtle differences as well. Understanding that their usual is definitely THEIR USUAL and not THE NORM is crucial to produce a greater understanding of others and empathy individuals over and above their identity team.
So how do we as parents and teachers do that?
In a lot of little ways;
We all encourage our children to be their true self. We all value each child for who they actually are and see them as whole beings.
We all teach them about who we are and our family culture and family traditions.
We value quirks, personalities, and differences in individuals. We read books that value being different and being yourself.
We point out there dissimilarities within our own groups. Cathedral groups, families, any group that children feel qualified for regular membership in. Discovering that these groups are in fact diverse helps open up the door to recognizing and valuing diversity in bigger groups.
We provide books that are inclusive, we avoid media that images any group, and when we see stereotypes or elegance we talk about it.
We avoid equating things with making a person valuable.
We purchase world in person, through media, and in books.
We encourage our kids to endure up on their own and for others by listening to our children and training them that they have a voice worth being heard.
Do not put up with hate and model this in what we say is to do. This specific might be harder than you think, standing up to your old aunt Milly at Thanksgiving is important because your kids are watching you and your silence is as much a lesson as your tone. It’s worth it to speak up.