5 Practical Ways to Raise Unprejudiced Kids

Careful the things you say children will listen quote

“Mom, look at the poor kid,” my son anxiously pointed to the scruffy looking, emaciated street kid. True, it was a poor kid but there was something in the way he said it, that made me feel uncomfortable. It felt like we were passing by an aquarium and he saw a fish, instead of a little boy just like him.

I cautioned him not to call people poor because that is rude and he reasoned out but he is really poor, isn’t he? I’m at a loss, he was correct but it is not right to be casting labels on people. I am deeply bothered and as I processed, I realised, that my kid wouldn’t know those labels had I not used them myself. Of course prejudice is not formed at home alone, there are the social interactions with friends, TV and social media, but as a parent I am a key influencer in my kids’ character.  Here are 5 Practical Steps I’m taking in Raising Unprejudiced Kids.

5 Ways to Raise Unprejudiced Kid

  1.  Do a Personal Prejudice Check.

Monkey see monkey do quote

Honest confession, I have my embarrassing prejudices and I’m highly expressive, a dangerous combination because that means I can easily pass it on to my kids. I’m not that excited to go to a non-fancy place and yes to my shame, money and status do impress me. But I’m trying to change that as I try to be more mindful of my thoughts. As I mature (at last!), I realise these prejudices are not healthy for my soul, not only in the spiritual kind of way, but as a human being. Prejudice only knows appearances and labels but doesn’t know the good or the evil of a soul. What could be more meaningful than knowing the soul of another over his bank account, right?

  1. Avoid Hasty Generalizations in Front of the Kids

I watch the news about a corrupt politician, and the jaded-me, blurts out “What’s new? Politicians are really so corrupt…” Translation: Politicians = corrupt. So when my kids look at a politician, corrupt or not, they label them already as corrupt. Or when a mainland Chinese cuts in our line in a theme park, I mutter a hasty generalization of how ridiculously rude they are. Translation: China-man = rude. Of course, not all Chinese are rude, just like not all politicians are corrupt.  Good read here on Why PRC people are rude.

Bad behavior should be called as it is. A bad behavior by a single person and not associated to a race, profession, religion or gender.

  1. Avoid Comparing using Labels

Labels are for containers not people quoteOk, this is really crazy of me (don’t label me;-)), but one of the ways I get my kids to do a task is through a scare technique. Example: If you don’t study, you’ll become poor. Translation: All poor people are uneducated which is not true of course. Now I try to say: If you don’t study, you won’t learn and you will not know a lot of things.

Another Example: Look at you, you haven’t taken a bath, you smell like a street kid. Translation: Street kids are unclean. Now I try to say: Take a bath. Doesn’t it feel better when you’re fresh?

Stick to the task and it’s basic benefits, no need to compare to a stereotype.

  1. Treat Everyone Kindly Regardless of Social Economic Status, Race or Religion

As I said in #1, socio-economic status tend to impress me (behaviour under modification), so I’m very careful for my kids not to carry the same smudge. I always tell them to treat everyone with the same respect, from the classmate who has parents with regular jobs to the classmate with parents who are tycoons, from the street vendor selling corn to the family friend who owns several businesses. And since kindness should begin at home, they should be kind to the household help. And they see this in me and my husband too, we always treat all our household helpers with kindness and respect.

  1. Expose them to Different Environments

I try to bring the kids to “non-high-end” malls once in awhile. Of course, overshadowed by my own prejudice, I never let go of my kids’ hands and I get panic attacks at the slightest disappearance, but I try. The world is not easy and luxurious, it is also hard and destitute, and we are the same people living in the same world. We are no different from them, better dressed and educated probably, but all our lives are of equal value.

It’s ok if they play with the caretaker’s kids. It’s ok if they commute with adult supervision. It’s ok if they hang out with the school scholars. It’s ok.

  1. Correct Prejudicial Comments.

I call attention to prejudicial comments of my kids. I try my best not to let it slide. Like if they say, “The Muslims are killing so many people.” I correct it and say, it is not the Muslims per se but a group of terrorists who just happens to be Muslims. Or if they say, “There are so many S----D Filipino drivers,” though I really want to nod in agreement or shout it out myself, I clamp my head to the headrest and say “Look at EDSA, millions of drivers following rules, all Filipinos, that is just one driver, it doesn’t make for the whole Philippines.”

I don’t claim that we are prejudice free,  oh my we are full of it but we are under construction correcting it.    In my own little way as parent, I try to instill in the kids a more open, non-judgmental view of people, regardless of our differences. After all, labels are for containers, not people.

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