Exposing children to other cultures and beliefs teaches tolerance and promotes an open mind.

How to Raise a Kid to Be Open-Minded

by Nannette Richford

If your idea of an open-minded child is someone who sees life your way instead of his way, you are in for bumpy ride. Open minded-children question what you hold dear, but you really wouldn't want it any other way. As a parent, teaching your child to view the world through his own lens and making decisions based on reality instead of bias and prejudice is one of your most important jobs. How well you teach that depends on how open-minded you allow yourself to be.

1 Speak respectfully about others and their lifestyle choices. Although its fine to express that you don't agree with their beliefs or choices, showing respect for varying viewpoints is the first step in teaching your child to be open-minded.

2 Demonstrate acceptance of differences in people. This includes all nationalities, colors and shapes. When your child sees you accepting others for who they are without criticism, he learns to accept others.

3 Regularly discuss the positive qualities of others. Point out their strengths, talents and contributions to your community or the world at large. This teaches your child to look to others in a positive light, instead of focusing on the negative.

4 Talk to your child about the people and events of his day. When conflict arises, encourage him to consider alternate reasons for people's behavior. Once he begins to see that people can react differently to the same stimulus, he becomes more willing to accept differences in the behavior of others.

5 Listen to your child carefully when he expresses his views and beliefs about the world around him. Ask questions if he seems confused or appears to be functioning from misunderstanding. Clarify confusing concepts to help him sort out his own beliefs and thoughts, but refrain from criticizing his beliefs simply because they differ from yours.

6 Expose your child to a variety of activities, social settings and cultural events. This includes watching documentaries, reading books and visiting museums -- but don't stop there. Include art work, foods and photos in your home that represent differing lifestyles and cultures. The more he knows about the world around him, the better able he is to approach it with an open mind.

7 Address prejudice and intolerance portrayed in movies or TV -- or comments from friends and family -- as soon as it occurs. Explain misconceptions and offer your child the facts about other cultures or ethnic groups.

Items you will need

  • Books
  • Movies
  • Magazines
  • Artwork
  • Foods, multicultural

Warning

  • Children learn more from what we do that what we say. Guard against making offhand jokes at the expense of others.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images