Dear Dr. Renee,
How do I teach my child to be considerate of other cultures and people who are different than us?
Some people say kids are “color” blind, but I disagree.
Children notice many things, including the fact that some people are different colors, wear different clothing, speak different languages, or with different accents. Children just do not seem to think of that as a big deal or a negative thing.
That said, the best way to teach children about different cultures so they can be considerate and kind to others would be to travel! You get a taste of the language, the sights and sounds, and the food. Going into a grocery store in a foreign culture is often a great experience. You can explore what is similar and different compared to your foods at home. Seeing what games kids play and what playground equipment looks like in a foreign country can be fun.
However, we are at the tail end of a pandemic and travel is not as easy or as possible for some families.
You can explore other cultures at home, too! Check out local listings for festivals and events happening in your area or online. In college, I went to my first Native American Pow Wow. It was fascinating and I was hooked. There are many educational videos and virtual field trips you can take right now to learn about other cultures.
You could also plan a mini-vacation at home.
Years ago, I had a client who could not afford to take her children on a trip but dreamed of taking them to Mexico. This became a month-long adventure for them. They did research about the traditional food and clothing, the places they wanted to visit, and what celebrations were popular in Mexico.
They reported to me weekly about what they learned and how they were making plans for their big “trip.” They even created One Day Passports.
It was fun to hear about their trip to Mexico. They had decorated the living room with maps and colorful pictures of what they had learned. Some of the maps and pictures were printed but many were drawn by the family. They all dressed in bright-colored clothing, had a traditional Mexican meal (“plain cheese quesadillas” for the pickiest eater), and they listened to Mariachi music while they ate.
Congrats to you for wanting to expand your child’s world in a way that will help them be kind and compassionate to others. Way to go!