How To Plant Seeds Of Tolerance + Acceptance
With the most recent discord in the United States, now is the time as a nanny or private educator to investigate ways to teach your nanny charges how to show tolerance, acceptance, and kindness to all people. As experts in childcare, you know that your nanny charges imitate your behavior, words, and attitudes. Considering the beautiful diversity that exists in this incredible world that we all inhabit, it is our job as caretakers for our collective future to support and guide our nanny kids as they learn to be generous and exuberant with their kindness towards all people. The first step of this process should be discussing the family’s values and making sure that the conversations you engage your nanny family in are within their expectations. It is imperative that you support the values of the family as a whole and do not step outside of the parents expectations. Working together with the family to create a tolerant and accepting environment is crucial to the process. Here are a few ways that you can make a difference in this world, by teaching your nanny charges how to work together and show love!
Inspect the way that you treat and speak to others. Does this reflect tolerance and a sense of acceptance of difference? Your nanny kids adore you and they will hear and observe your tone and absorb that as the ideal example of how to interact with others.
As a nanny or private educator, your charges listen and learn from you. At school, kids might engage in stereotyping and joking about the inappropriate slang names given to different groups. When asked about those words they mostly report that they have heard this language used at home. Even if you’re having a conversation with other adults, be mindful that your nanny kids WILL be listening. Think carefully about the words and tone that you use when speaking about or to marginalized people. Talk about differing groups in a factual and informative manner, but clearly state that joking and any degrading name-calling is not kind, and is not tolerant.
Answer any questions honestly and respectfully. Everyone notices differences in people so it is important to constructively discuss diversity with your nanny charges.
Choose programs, movies, stories and games that value differences. The media has a powerful ability to shape attitudes, particularly for wide-eyed children looking for guidance and an understanding of social boundaries. If you do watch or witness something that is prejudice, be sure to talk about it with your kids and the hurt it can cause to those groups. Use every opportunity as a learning tool to show the kids incorrect and correct ways to show tolerance, and continue to reaffirm that hate-speech and ‘othering’ is counterproductive to establishing relationships, and endangers others.
Expect your nanny charges to consistently treat others with respect. By modeling radical tolerance yourself, you should certainly not accept disrespectful behaviour both inside and outside the family home.
Value the differences within the nanny family. Accept the diverse qualities each member possesses regardless of differing styles, interests and abilities. Help your nanny kids see value for who they are too.
Foster self-esteem in the family. We all know that people who don’t respect others rarely feel happy and secure within themselves. Kids who feel confident and good about themselves tend to be more kind and courteous towards others.
Involve your nanny kids in situations where diversity is present. This may be at sporting events, school, day care and even camps. Don’t shy away from opportunities to talk about race, equality, inclusion and acceptance.
Learn together about other cultures + traditions! Explore how different cultures celebrate occasions and live, investigate the incredible differences and traditions and teach your nanny charges that these unique perspectives are valued and respected.
Here are a few more specific ways to get the conversation started:
- Ask your nanny kids ‘did you notice the differences between you and (a schoolmate, sibling or teammate)? What do you think makes each of you unique? In what ways are you alike?’.
- In watching a movie where the kids are exposed to a new idea, culture, etc. talk to the kids about the historical significance of the new idea/culture. Share a few examples of wonderful people that identify with that new concept, and teach your nanny charges about the incredible benefit of finding common ground.
- When you’re running errands with your nanny kids and they remark about someones disability, skin color, or general difference, gently explain to them what’s going on, be honest about the general details, ‘that person has a different kind of outfit than you, but that’s really cool, right?’. In the moment, pull them aside and use a kind, teaching tone to show them a new way to talk about people that are different. Along the lines of ‘oh hun, how would it make you feel if someone said something like that about you or someone you know and love? What if we spoke about them and said we loved their wonderful hat, instead of focusing on their lack of hair?’. The point here is to never shame the kiddos or make them feel embarrassed, you want them to trust you and feel comfortable coming to you with their realest thoughts, you just want to gently redirect them.
- If the kids hear something unkind and repeat it to you, ask questions and listen to their responses. Where did they hear it? What do they think it means? This might be an opportunity to give them an age-appropriate understanding of what that negative word or slang means, and how they could use different words to convey a more loving and accepting message.
- Talk to your nanny kids about bullying, ask them if they know any peers that don’t have very many friends or are often excluded. Talk with the kids about how they could offer to eat lunch with their peer, or invite them to their upcoming birthday party, or leave a kind note in their locker. Maybe make an afternoon project of writing sweet notes to people that are treated unfairly, and show the kids how proud you are of their creativity and tenderness.
Your nanny kids will mimic you, you are their ultimate hero and their confidant. Utilize the particularly special connection you have with them to shape the social landscape of the future. If we teach children how to love unequivocally, to show radical acceptance to all people, we ensure a brighter, more tolerant, and safer future for us all.