Helping Kids Accept Differences

Helping Kids Accept Differences

6 May 2022 • Words by Nanette Botha 2 mins

The way that our kids see others, including those with disabilities, largely depends on the way we, as caregivers, see others. That means that we have the ability, but also the responsibility of educating our children in a manner that would help them not only accept kids with differences but to include them in their classroom, their activities and their friendship circles.

According to Hurst, et al. (2012) children with disabilities can have a positive experience in an inclusive classroom if their peers are accepting of them. Not only is this true for children with disabilities, but any child who feels accepted would also feel welcome, heard and included whether that is in the classroom, in a grocery store or on the playground. There are a few things that we, as parents, can do to support our children in this regard.

The following 3 tips are practical and easy to help kids accept differences in everyday life:

Set a suitable example that is worth following as children learn best by following examples.

If you meet someone with a disability and you spend time together, make a point of truly getting to know the individual.  Do not make any assumptions or decide what you think the person may like, dislike or feel comfortable with.  Show interest in your new acquaintance. Always be sincere, just like you would with any new friend that you are getting to know.

Remember that not all disabilities are physical and at times a disability may not be clearly visible.

There will be times when an individual may have some challenges that you are not able to see. It is important to also teach this to our children. If a person is in a wheelchair, people tend to be more understanding and accepting without even putting much thought into it. It seems obvious that this individual may have trouble moving around in certain environments and may require some support. That doesn’t change the type of friend they will be or reduce the fun that they can have together, though!

However, if a child has a hard time communicating or perhaps coping with transitions or large group activities, they are not always included and accepted the way they should be. If we can teach our children from a young age to see the beauty in a friend or a classmate and accept them for who they are, we have made a positive difference in our children already. If you don’t feel confident in your ability to start a conversation with your child on this topic, choose a book or a story on the Moshi app to help you!

Create awareness of strengths and challenges.

Every person, including every child, has strengths – perhaps things they enjoy, things they find easy or things they excel in.  Every child also has challenges – something they struggle with, something they don’t like or do not cope well with. It is important to help our children understand that we all have different strengths and challenges. This could be something that they may find easy, may be a challenge for a friend and vice versa. If we focus on our strengths and use them to support our friends by being kind and accepting, we will all help to make our home, our school and our community a better place.

Hurst, C., Corning, K., & Ferrante, R. (2012). Children’s acceptance of others with disability: the influence of a disability-simulation program. Journal of genetic counseling, 21(6), 873–883.

Nanette Botha

Educational specialist & mother of 3 young children Co-founder: AIMS Global & Leadership at: Augmental