How to teach kids to be Open-Minded at home

The world is becoming increasingly connected, and we want to teach kids to be more open-minded so they can be adaptable and responsible adults. Open-mindedness is the willingness to look beyond one’s biases and accept new perspectives no matter how different they are from our personal beliefs.

According to Childcare Education Expert Patricia Koh, tolerance is knowing that someone is different but not showing one’s displeasure publicly. By teaching kids to be more open-minded and tolerant, they learn how to be around people who are different without hurting them physically or emotionally. It will also teach kids how to handle uncomfortable situations and be non-judgmental around people of other races, gender, or religion.

There are many benefits to being open-minded. Open-minded children can think for themselves and are resistant to manipulation. They are also mentally strong and can handle new information. While these are excellent benefits, teaching kids to be open-minded can be challenging.

With that, here are six ways parents can teach kids open-mindedness at home:

1. Become a role model for open-mindedness

Children’s minds are like sponges, constantly absorbing new information around them. As parents, it’s good to set an example of what you want them to be instead of just telling them about it. Another reason being their role model is important is because it encourages them to follow a particular value when the person they look up to is applying it in their life. Moreover, children like to copy an adult’s actions and think, “If mommy can do it, I can do it too.”

2. Encourage questions and curiosity

Thinking outside the box entails curiosity and thinking about “why” aside from “how” something works. Children are naturally curious and creative because they still do not fully understand how certain things work. This ignorance can be their greatest strength as they are not limited by preconceived notions and can find answers to problems others may deem “impossible” to solve. As a parent, it’s best to encourage their curiosity as long as they are in a safe environment.

3. Answer questions honestly and sincerely

Curious children sometimes have questions that are difficult to answer. Questions about race, religion, and even why bad things happen can be challenging for parents to explain. Sometimes, the best thing to do is be honest and tell our children that we do not know the answers. Admitting our lack of knowledge will encourage our children to be more open-minded to discover and experiment.

No matter how difficult it might be, it’s best to be honest and open to children as it creates a foundation for trust and lets them know they are safe to explore topics at home. When children feel safe, they can explore areas they normally wouldn’t.

4. Point out stereotypes and prejudice

Children take in everything around them, including the environment and messages from the media, like how some religions are considered dangerous or how specific races are said to be more aggressive. While we cannot control what the media portrays, we can teach our children that certain prejudices or stereotypes are false and that people should still be treated with respect regardless of their skin color or religion.

As a parent, let children know that there is more than meets the eye and that it’s okay to question the information given to them.

5. Expose them to different cultures and situations

It’s not enough to simply tell children about cultural differences. Many rely on their senses and may react differently to new experiences. If you want to teach your kids to be more open-minded, you can start by bringing them to foreign restaurants where they can try out cuisines they usually wouldn’t have at home or school.

Another way to teach open-mindedness is to encourage them to make friends with children who are not like them. By making friends with different kids, your children will get to experience diversity and develop empathy. This is an experience they may remember till adulthood and take into account when dealing with others in the workplace.

6. Ask them to put themselves in someone else’s shoes.

Open-mindedness does not just mean being open to new information. It also means being empathetic and able to put oneself in other people’s shoes. Empathy requires sacrifice, respecting someone else’s point of view instead of just saying, “I’m sorry,” and walking away.

One way to teach kids to be empathetic is to pretend play or ask how they would feel if they were in a particular scenario. This exercise may be simple, but it taps into a child’s imagination and trains them to understand other people’s emotions. Teaching children to be empathetic increases their emotional intelligence, which is crucial in helping them learn to regulate emotions as they age.

Wherever you may be, open-mindedness is a significant value that should be taught to kids early. It is an essential part of leadership as it lets people have their ideas challenged without being defensive. Open-minded children are more resilient and can set aside their egos to find creative solutions to complex problems.

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