Children are born without bias. As infants, they don’t care about race, gender, religion (or lack thereof), sexual orientation or cultural identity. As they grow, any prejudice they exhibit regarding others is the result of learning via observation. That means if you wish to raise a nonjudgmental child, you must first take a look in the mirror as well as understand that the key to building relationships and raising a nonjudgmental child is through the development of trust and communication.
As a parent, you are your child’s first teacher, which is why it is crucial that you are a role model as your infant matures into a walking, talking toddler. These first three or four years of life are crucial to forming your child’s personality — including his or her views on the differences we humans naturally exhibit.
Your young child is more likely to be open and welcoming to others if you connect and associate with people who are different from you. This means exposing your child to diversity-rich environments and cultivating friendships with children of many different backgrounds.
Throughout your son or daughter’s childhood — and especially during those formative years — it is important to talk honestly and openly about the many wonderful differences that make everyone unique. Discussing these differences can make the unfamiliar less scary and threatening, which can help reduce prejudice.
Practicing empathy and compassion through role-playing is one way to help ensure that your child is open and welcoming to others. Start by having your child express concern for someone (perhaps you) if they’ve been injured or had some other misfortune befall them. This is also a good opportunity to reinforce the Golden Rule: Treat others as you want them to treat you.
You should also look for teachable moments along the way. If you see someone who’s being mistreated because of their differences, explain to your child why this is wrong. If your child says something derogatory about another child because he or she has a physical impairment, explain what that impairment is and that he or she is not “weird” or “dumb” but simply “different,” and that different is okay.
Lastly, you should reward good behavior. Try to “catch your child being good,” and when he or she exhibits extraordinary tolerance or genuine concern for another, offer verbal praise, a hug or another positive gesture.
Though babies are born without bias, nonjudgmental adults are raised, not born. As a parent, it’s up to you to ensure that your child becomes one.
To read more, check out Julia Cook’s latest book, The Judgmental Flower.