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|Quick reference medical handouts used
by Pediatric offices
Helping Children Understand Other Cultures
Our world's survival may depend on better understanding of
both the interconnectedness and diversity of its people. Parents have the best
opportunity to help their children develop respect for other cultures, and to
teach their children how to deal with the prejudice of others. Recognizing
diversity of families becomes more important as family roles and expectations
are being transformed worldwide. While people are experiencing these changes,
they are struggling to retain their traditions and heritage.
What can you, the parent, do to help your children
understand and respect other cultures? Telling children that prejudice is bad is
not enough. Through your own attitudes and actions, show that cultural diversity
is a positive and natural part of life. Although you have customs and values
that are important to you, acknowledge that others' customs and values are valid
Here are some ways to promote tolerance for others,
suggested by family psychologist John Rosemond and others:
- Talk about differences among people with your child.
Don't say, "People are all the same." Although we share some of
the same needs and drives, people are different.
- Remind your children that what's important about a
person is what's inside, not outside. Help them look beyond the surface in
- A person's race, gender, or physical condition should
never be the basis for ridicule or rejection.
- Teach children to put themselves in another person's
place and try to see life from that viewpoint.
- Point out prejudice when it happens and discuss it with
your children. Encourage them to speak up when they see someone, especially
another child, being treated unfairly.
- Discuss how certain cultural patterns have developed or
have been influenced by such things as climate, history, condition of the
land, inventions, language, literature, and art.
- Take pride in your cultural heritage and share it with
your children. Music is a good place to begin. For example, teachers found
that the Mexican children of Los Angeles seemed to have more self-esteem and
pride in their cultural heritage after a local radio station changed their
format to Musica de Ranchero (slow Mexican Country).
- Visit museums, festivals, ethnic restaurants, and other
places that expose your family to different customs and lifestyles.
- Try to have direct contact with people whose cultures
or lifestyles are different from your own. Children are less likely to fear
what they know. Some churches, 4-H offices, and other organizations often
arrange youth exchanges. These might be across town or around the world.
- Introduce children to good books. Libraries have
sensitively written books on topics that their classmates cope with daily.
- Avoid stereotypes within your own family. Expect sons
as well as daughters to help with household chores, such as laundry and
dishes. Encourage daughters to excel at subjects, such as science and math,
and to participate in sports.
- Help your children develop self-confidence. Insecure
people are more likely to be obsessed with conformity. Self-worth will also
help children handle insults and bias from others.
- Share with your children how you coped when treated
unfairly. They need to understand there are some mean people in this world,
but this meanness and ignorance has nothing to do with your child's worth.
- Using a world map, play games such as "Name that
- You and your child might volunteer at a community
center for another culture. Teach English, your special skill, or share a
Materials on global awareness and development may be
obtained from the following publishers and publications. Check with your local
- World Bank Publications
- David M. Kennedy Center for International Studies
- Brigham Young University
- Foreign Policy Association
- Oxford University Press
- United Nations Publications
reprinted with the permission of
the Ohio State University Extension
As a reminder, this information should not be relied on as
medical advice and is not intended to replace the advice of your childs pediatrician.
Please read our full disclaimer.