This might have been a question in your household after recent events in Sri Lanka.
The question I get asked is how do we tackle this and explain it to our children?
In this day and age when our country and cities are so diverse it is so important to teach our children about differences and how these should be celebrated. Everyone is different – in terms of skin colour, race, how tall or short you are, whether you are carrying more fat than others. We are all unique and all different and this is something that should be embraced. All too often you hear that someone is picking on someone else and it comes down to the fact that we are different. Someone doesn’t like the difference they see in the other person whether that be due to looks or personality.
I would say that this begins at home. Tolerance and respect for the little differences we have in our families. It is ok to look different. It is ok to like toys that are pink or blue or for a boy to play with dolls. These are the roots. What we ‘allow’ our children to do and say and how we respond to them will ultimately determine the type of individual they grow up to be.
I explain to my children that we need to be tolerant of what people say and the things they do. I explain that we are all different and that this is what is so special about the human race. No two people are exactly the same. With billions of people living on the planet this is amazing!
This is where we start by modelling tolerance to our children and when they comment and ask ‘why is that person a different colour to me?’ you respond with an answer along the lines of we all look different and that’s ok. Shying away from giving an answer because you feel embarrassed gives an impression to your child that there is something to be uncomfortable about. There isn’t!
We are so lucky in Plymouth to have such diversity in our city. We have a golden opportunity to live with tolerance and respect for others’ ideas and beliefs and know that it is ok to believe something else – this makes us interesting.
Maybe if we start educating our children in differences between one another from a young age there won’t be such a divide as our children grow up.
I know how I want my child to grow up and the attitude I want them to have about anyone else they might meet. Let’s start there…