Growing up in a diverse and complex world
Intercultural skills are vital for communicating, living and learning in today’s interconnected and complex world. The personal qualities and attributes that support intercultural understanding such as open-mindedness, empathy, curiosity and flexibility are best learnt during the early years of life. By providing opportunities for your children to engage positively with different cultures and different ways of understanding they are able to acquire important skills for learning, thriving and achieving their potential. In today’s ‘switched on’ world we often feel bombarded by ‘frightening’ and negative messages that come from and lead to a place of fear and suspicion of the ‘other’. Although most of us try to foster ideals of justice and respect we can never completely shield children from the sadness, injustice and violence in the world.
In the face of what often feels (even for adults) as a chaotic, threatening and overwhelming world, it is sometimes hard to see our way through – However as parents, it is our job to take our children by the hand and lead them towards a path of hope and place of peace both with themselves and with ‘others’.
What can Parents do?
By nurturing in our children a strong sense of who they are along with the skills to listen to and learn from others we are endowing them with essential skills to grow and thrive.
What parents do and say and how we behave and communicate on a daily basis with our children has a powerful influence. Parents can support their children to:
- feel positive about themselves and their capabilities.
- interact successfully with others.
- recognise, express and regulate feelings.
- stand up for their beliefs
- empathise and support people who are the victims of discrimination
- Keep in mind that your attitudes, words and behaviours have a a powerful influence on your kids. Children model their values, attitudes and behavaviour on the significant adults in their lives. What you do is more important than what you profess.
- Discuss the ideas about diversity in books, TV shows and online. Draw your child’s attention to stereotypes and racist or discriminatory images or stories when you encounter them.
- Clearly state your rejection of prejudice and help your child to recognise and confront discrimination when they witness or experience it.
- Keep channels of communication with your children open so that they feel recognised, understood, listened to, and respected.