An important aspect of every child’s upbringing is teaching them the values of respecting everyone and treating them with compassion.
Teaching your kids about disabilities in other people is a way of promoting awareness towards disabled individuals. It also makes younger kids more open to having friends who might not have the same physical abilities as themselves.
Every child will eventually come across a person who is disabled. First, they’ll be curious, and then they’ll ask their parents about it.
The way a parent explains disability to their kid will shape the kid’s outlook on disabled individuals.
Wondering where to start? We’ll guide you through the process to ensure that your child becomes someone who cares for their special needs peers.
Be honest and straightforward
When a child encounters someone different from them, it’s natural for them to notice the difference. If your child sees another child in a wheelchair or has a peer with peculiar behavior, don’t tell them to ignore it.
Pretending like a disability doesn’t exist further stigmatizes and isolates disabled people. Be honest about it.
Tell them that they might need extra help to get from one place to the other. Use kind words like “disabled,” “specially-abled,” or “challenged” while explaining.
Read about disabilities
The quickest and the most effective way to learn about something is to read.
Sit with your child and read about how disabilities are caused and that different individuals have varied disabilities. After reading, answer whatever questions they may have.
Learning about disabilities is a great way to open the learner’s mind and help them look at disabilities in a different light. It will make the child more empathetic towards people with disabilities.
Don’t dwell on differences
When we speak of disability, we look at what is different in the person. Teach your child that physical differences are inconsequential to building love and friendship with someone.
Have them look at the similarities between themselves and their disabled peers. Children are very responsive to finding similarities in other people.
Telling them that their wheelchair-bound peer has the same favorite superhero or candy flavor would reinforce acceptance.
Celebrate what’s unique
“Not dwelling on differences” doesn’t mean that they should be ignored. Encourage your child to look at people with disabilities with a sense of awe.
Show them that even though disabled individuals have to face a certain physical challenge every day, they’re stronger because of it.
Tell them how disabilities do not make someone less of a person but rather displays their mental fortitude to overcome any bodily challenge. This molds the child’s outlook towards respecting differently-abled people.
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Set an example
Kids are at an age where it’s very easy to mold them into the kinds of individuals their parents want them to be. They mirror their parents’ behavior and learn to copy their parents’ mannerisms, thoughts and values.
If you want your child to be kind, set an example and be kind first. Kindness begins at home. When you are kind to your child and other people, they’ll know that this is how a good person behaves.
Whatever value you want to teach your child, it’ll be the easiest when they see you doing it first.
Teach your child the importance of kindness, compassion, and empathy
Kindness goes a long way. So does every other positive feeling that connects someone with another person on an emotional level.
It’s important to tell your child early on that kindness comes free.
Remind them that even if a person looks different or behaves differently, they should always be nice and polite to whomever they encounter.
Discourage bullying or disrespectful language
Bullying is a very serious issue, and disabled children are more often on the receiving end. It is common for a child to want to tease a peer who is different.
If you find that your child has been teasing a special needs kid, teach them about the disability instead of reprimanding them for their behavior.
Also, remind your child how they would feel if someone bullied them for things they can’t change.
This will sensitize the child about another person’s suffering and teach them that every individual deserves to be treated with dignity despite their differences.
Now more than ever, the world needs good-willed people who are proactively destigmatizing disabilities.
Setting an example, being honest, and teaching your kids to embrace the differences and not dwell on them can help shape your kids to be a kinder and more compassionate person.
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