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10 Things To Remember If You Want To Raise Your Kids To Be Open-minded

10 Things To Remember If You Want To Raise Your Kids To Be Open-minded

In the modern world, you are exposed to diversity everywhere you go. People share different beliefs, languages, traditions, backgrounds, and appearances. Diversity fuels the world, creates numerous educational opportunities, and keeps conversations interesting.

As a loving parent, you want your child to grow with an open mind, tolerant of all the differences out there and capable of making thoughtful decisions based on facts. If you want your kids to be open-minded, here are 10 important things to remember.

1. Open-mindedness doesn’t come from racial diversity

Diversity is largely dependent on different socioeconomic factors. Public schools are location-based, and your kids will go to school with other kids who live nearby. Unless you are based in a major city like New York, there is a relatively small chance that you’ll get any sort of real diversity. It’s hard to admit, but the world is still segregated as housing is segregated economically. Now, I’m certain you know which neighborhoods in your city are “good”, “expensive”, “Chinese,” and so on. Yet, many modern parents opt to take their kids out of the typical suburban exodus once they finish kindergarten, as they see that the suburbs as not a realistic preparation for their kids’ lives. If it’s an option for you — consider it!

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2. Open-mindedness comes from an open learning environment

However, not all schools can boast this type of environment. A lot of teachers are fired because they don’t teach to the tests, and sadly, fringe ideas are not part of the national curriculum. If you want to raise an open-minded child, don’t let them learn in the test-based environment where they just grow up knowing that all they need is to remember the right answer to pass a test.

Help your kids develop critical thinking and teach them to make independent judgements. When they ask for your help, don’t give them a ready-made solution. Instead, brainstorm different ideas together. Help them find the best one on their own by encouraging them to ask questions, slightly guiding them in the right direction. Stop saying things like “I know better,” or “Because I said so,” when they don’t understand why they should do it your way. Let them make mistakes and even fail sometimes. Yes, it might be hard for you, but to raise your child to be a successful, open-minded adult, they need to learn how to get over failure, analyze their mistakes, and make more successful attempts.

3. Always monitor your own attitude and open-mindedness

Kids are constantly watching you deal with different situations and people. If you want your kid to be open-minded, you should always stay alert about the things you say and the way you act. Avoid dropping even casual statements of intolerance, such as “Janine’s mom isn’t right because she doesn’t accept evolution theory,” or judging anyone because of traditions they follow. Your kids should grow up knowing that if someone does the usual things in a different way, it doesn’t mean they are wrong and should be criticized. Difference isn’t bad— difference is what makes the world go round.

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4. TV shows and movies are full of prejudice

You should explain to your child that not all Russians are cold-minded villains as the movies often show, not all Mexicans are illegal immigrants, and so on. Explain to your child that the world is much more complicated that it is shown on the screen and that there is lots of bias in the media. Instead, offer them raw facts about different cultures and ethnic groups so they can learn to make their own judgements.

5. Teach them languages

Languages open people up to understanding of different cultures and their values. Yes, English is commonly spoken around the world, however, understanding another language exposes you to more possibilities to see things from a different perspective. Besides, your children will be able to access information presented from a different perspective and become more tolerant of other cultures whose language they can speak and understand. Intolerance and hostility often comes from miscommunication and misunderstanding of foreign traditions.

6. Expose your child to different activities and cultures

Watch documentaries about different countries, go to museums, visit exhibitions and cultural events organized by foreign organizations. Try various cuisines, read stories about different cultures, and see the world through photos. Choose books and movies where the main characters are not necessarily Caucasian. If your child’s friend invites you to Hanuka, accept the invitation and explain your kid why he’s celebrating it instead of Christmas. The more your child knows about the world around them, the more they will be able to approach it with an open mind.

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7. Let your children have friends who are not like them

Your child should realize that there isn’t a “norm” of how people must look. Encourage them to have friends of different backgrounds and ethnicities. Playing and communicating with other kids will help him realize that they are just like them, despite their color, religion, or cultural background.

When I was a child, I spent two years in Japan playing with the local kids and other expat children from all around the world. I’m grateful my parents never suggested whom I should be friends with. This helped me to grow into a “colorblind”, open-minded adult, curious about the world and other cultures.

8. Respect your child’s individuality

If you really want to bring up an independent, open-minded child, don’t try to push them into stereotypical molds such as, “girls should play with dolls and wear dresses.” If you son wants to paint his nails blue — why not? If your daughter chooses wood work as her after-class activity — fantastic. Ask what she’s up to. Let your child grow outside the so-called “feminine” and “masculine” roles and try different things they like. Who said a boy can’t like cooking and judo at the same time?

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9. Teach your children to deal with criticism and prejudice

Unfortunately, not all kids and adults out there would be equally open-minded and tolerant. You’ll have to teach your child to be assertive and to stand up for himself (or his friends) without being overly aggressive. When he or she faces some prejudice because of his hobbies, friends, shape, or size, talk with them through the problem. My friend’s son was teased because he took ballet classes. Yet his mom just told him about all the modern male dancers, showed him Sergei Polunin, who could hardly be called girly, and explained that in a couple of years, all the girls would chase him because he would be really good-looking and maybe even famous. Now, when he hears something skeptical such as, “So you do ballet, huh?” he simply says, “Yes!”

10. Foster logical thinking

Open-mindedness comes hand-in-hand with logical thinking. Intolerance and racism mainly come from bias and false beliefs about different cultures. Don’t let your child grow up believing each and every thing they hear from their teachers, other kids, or their parents. They should be able to evaluate statements, analyze the facts, and create their own opinions about everyone and everything, rather than just relying on ideas presented by others. If you want your children to be open minded, they should be independent thinkers.

Featured photo credit: Julie Kertesz via flickr.com

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Elena Prokopets

Elena is a passionate blogger who shares about lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on February 11, 2021

Easily Misunderstood by Others? 6 Barriers You Should Overcome to Make Communication Less Frustrating

Easily Misunderstood by Others? 6 Barriers You Should Overcome to Make Communication Less Frustrating

How often have you said something simple, only to have the person who you said this to misunderstand it or twist the meaning completely around? Nodding your head in affirmative? Then this means that you are being unclear in your communication.

Communication should be simple, right? It’s all about two people or more talking and explaining something to the other. The problem lies in the talking itself, somehow we end up being unclear, and our words, attitude or even the way of talking becomes a barrier in communication, most of the times unknowingly. We give you six common barriers to communication, and how to get past them; for you to actually say what you mean, and or the other person to understand it as well…

The 6 Walls You Need to Break Down to Make Communication Effective

Think about it this way, a simple phrase like “what do you mean” can be said in many different ways and each different way would end up “communicating” something else entirely. Scream it at the other person, and the perception would be anger. Whisper this is someone’s ear and others may take it as if you were plotting something. Say it in another language, and no one gets what you mean at all, if they don’t speak it… This is what we mean when we say that talking or saying something that’s clear in your head, many not mean that you have successfully communicated it across to your intended audience – thus what you say and how, where and why you said it – at times become barriers to communication.[1]

Perceptual Barrier

The moment you say something in a confrontational, sarcastic, angry or emotional tone, you have set up perceptual barriers to communication. The other person or people to whom you are trying to communicate your point get the message that you are disinterested in what you are saying and sort of turn a deaf ear. In effect, you are yelling your point across to person who might as well be deaf![2]

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The problem: When you have a tone that’s not particularly positive, a body language that denotes your own disinterest in the situation and let your own stereotypes and misgivings enter the conversation via the way you talk and gesture, the other person perceives what you saying an entirely different manner than say if you said the same while smiling and catching their gaze.

The solution: Start the conversation on a positive note, and don’t let what you think color your tone, gestures of body language. Maintain eye contact with your audience, and smile openly and wholeheartedly…

Attitudinal Barrier

Some people, if you would excuse the language, are simply badass and in general are unable to form relationships or even a common point of communication with others, due to their habit of thinking to highly or too lowly of them. They basically have an attitude problem – since they hold themselves in high esteem, they are unable to form genuine lines of communication with anyone. The same is true if they think too little of themselves as well.[3]

The problem: If anyone at work, or even in your family, tends to roam around with a superior air – anything they say is likely to be taken by you and the others with a pinch, or even a bag of salt. Simply because whenever they talk, the first thing to come out of it is their condescending attitude. And in case there’s someone with an inferiority complex, their incessant self-pity forms barriers to communication.

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The solution: Use simple words and an encouraging smile to communicate effectively – and stick to constructive criticism, and not criticism because you are a perfectionist. If you see someone doing a good job, let them know, and disregard the thought that you could have done it better. It’s their job so measure them by industry standards and not your own.

Language Barrier

This is perhaps the commonest and the most inadvertent of barriers to communication. Using big words, too much of technical jargon or even using just the wrong language at the incorrect or inopportune time can lead to a loss or misinterpretation of communication. It may have sounded right in your head and to your ears as well, but if sounded gobbledygook to the others, the purpose is lost.

The problem: Say you are trying to explain a process to the newbies and end up using every technical word and industry jargon that you knew – your communication has failed if the newbie understood zilch. You have to, without sounding patronizing, explain things to someone in the simplest language they understand instead of the most complex that you do.

The solution: Simplify things for the other person to understand you, and understand it well. Think about it this way: if you are trying to explain something scientific to a child, you tone it down to their thinking capacity, without “dumbing” anything down in the process.[4]

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Emotional Barrier

Sometimes, we hesitate in opening our mouths, for fear of putting our foot in it! Other times, our emotional state is so fragile that we keep it and our lips zipped tightly together lest we explode. This is the time that our emotions become barriers to communication.[5]

The problem: Say you had a fight at home and are on a slow boil, muttering, in your head, about the injustice of it all. At this time, you have to give someone a dressing down over their work performance. You are likely to transfer at least part of your angst to the conversation then, and talk about unfairness in general, leaving the other person stymied about what you actually meant!

The solution: Remove your emotions and feelings to a personal space, and talk to the other person as you normally would. Treat any phobias or fears that you have and nip them in the bud so that they don’t become a problem. And remember, no one is perfect.

Cultural Barrier

Sometimes, being in an ever-shrinking world means that inadvertently, rules can make cultures clash and cultural clashes can turn into barriers to communication. The idea is to make your point across without hurting anyone’s cultural or religious sentiments.

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The problem: There are so many ways culture clashes can happen during communication and with cultural clashes; it’s not always about ethnicity. A non-smoker may have problems with smokers taking breaks; an older boss may have issues with younger staff using the Internet too much.

The solution: Communicate only what is necessary to get the point across – and eave your personal sentiments or feelings out of it. Try to be accommodative of the other’s viewpoint, and in case you still need to work it out, do it one to one, to avoid making a spectacle of the other person’s beliefs.[6]

Gender Barrier

Finally, it’s about Men from Mars and Women from Venus. Sometimes, men don’t understand women and women don’t get men – and this gender gap throws barriers in communication. Women tend to take conflict to their graves, literally, while men can move on instantly. Women rely on intuition, men on logic – so inherently, gender becomes a big block in successful communication.[7]

The problem: A male boss may inadvertently rub his female subordinates the wrong way with anti-feminism innuendoes, or even have problems with women taking too many family leaves. Similarly, women sometimes let their emotions get the better of them, something a male audience can’t relate to.

The solution: Talk to people like people – don’t think or classify them into genders and then talk accordingly. Don’t make comments or innuendos that are gender biased – you don’t have to come across as an MCP or as a bra-burning feminist either. Keep gender out of it.

And remember, the key to successful communication is simply being open, making eye contact and smiling intermittently. The battle is usually half won when you say what you mean in simple, straightforward words and keep your emotions out of it.

Reference

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