Currently, Gen A (Generation Alpha) is being born all around the world. This generation is so new to the world, we have no information on what society will look like by the time they reach adulthood. But what we do know is we as parents and leaders are in a position to impact what the future holds for the next generations. We have the opportunity to help them have the best starting point possible.
This work begins at home, and even though we might not all agree on everything, the foundation of a better future is teaching our kids not to hate and is the most important lesson of all. We cannot ignore the danger of allowing hatred in any form. We cannot allow hate and misunderstandings to build a more divided world. As parents, our goal is to help teach our kids to be open and in control of their emotional well-being so they will be able to enter the world without feeling the need to undermine other people.
I am living proof of the way that cultural acceptance and emotional understanding can radically alter a child. When I was growing up, I experienced bullying because of my culture, and I never wanted my children to experience what I had. More than that, I didn’t want any child to have to experience what I had. Rather than respond out of anger or by lashing out, I was taught to speak up for myself and explain my own culture and experiences with pride. I responded to hate with kindness, with love, but not as a doormat. This made it so I was working to break down the foundation of hate: ignorance. I carried this lesson with me and I continue to believe kindness is the most powerful tool in combating hate.
Through years of working as a physician, I had a first-row seat to the injustice throughout the very fundamental aspects of our system. I took all my learned knowledge to use when I started my company, which focuses on helping parents and educational institutions teach children about different cultures worldwide. Over the years I have gathered several tips and tricks I find to be fundamental to teaching our kids not to hate. Below is my list of 10 tips for parents raising accepting and kind global citizens.
1. Build Their Confidence
Encourage your child to speak positively to themselves. Teach your children to be proud of their strengths and teach them the power of positive thinking. This will give them self-confidence that will help them be more secure in their teens in the face of peer pressure.
2. Start Teaching DEI (Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion) And Belonging Right Away
Introduce diverse toys such as books with images of all skin colors, gender roles, and family depictions. Early exposure to different cultures, religions, and experiences makes all the difference in how children later encounter people in the world. This will teach them there is no ‘standard’ or ‘normal’ person and there is nothing wrong with any way of living life. At In KidZ, we have created culture boxes that start with our young children between the ages of 2-11 years old.
3. Always Have Open Communication
Build strong communication skills and systems from the very moment a baby is born. Ask them questions and encourage them to tell their stories (fiction or otherwise). The more you show them that they can speak their minds, the more they will speak up in public situations.
4. Teach Them To Respect What Is ‘Different’
Differences are all around us all the time; there is no need to pretend we are all the same. What is important is to remember ‘different’ doesn’t mean wrong and certainly does not mean less than.
5. Encourage Learning New Skills/Hobbies
Learning new skills is never a bad thing (no matter what age). Encourage your kids to try as many things as possible. Help them grow and change as their interests change.
6. Explore Other Cultures In Your Home/As A Family
You can include lessons on exposing your children to new things right in your own home. One of my personal favorites is to branch out and try new foods from different cultures. Another day would be watching films, traveling to new countries, or making an effort to get to know other parents at school/in the neighborhood from different backgrounds.
7. Pay Attention To How You Talk To Yourself And Others Around Them
Children are sponges and they will always do what you do, even when you tell them to do the opposite. The way you talk to yourself and others when you are in front of your kids will determine how they talk about themselves and others. Be mindful and pay attention to your words.
8. Give Them Proper Tools To Handle Their Emotions
Crying, anger, and frustration are just as important emotions like laughter and happiness. As human beings, we all live on an emotional spectrum. If you make your kids feel uncomfortable showing their emotions around you, they will develop issues with expressing emotions in other aspects as well. This is how anger can build and result in an outpour of emotions at the wrong time. You can also bring in tools like emotion cards or even toys that help children express their emotions, or better equip them to verbalize and process them.
9. Make Mental Health A Priority
Make sure mental health is a priority in your home. Do not discourage your kids if they are having a hard time. If you notice them sleeping more, being less engaged, and distant, do not call them lazy or force them to do activities they do not want to. Talk to them and ask them how they are feeling or what they are thinking about. Be there for them and give them tools to take care of themselves (journal writing, counseling, anger outlets, etc.)
10. Continuously Teach Them To Stop Hate
Teach your kids to be active participants in the journey to stopping hate. Give them specific suggestions on how they can respond to bullies. This means teaching them to be aware when someone is being bullied at school or if any of their friends are bullying them. Help them speak up, teach them to communicate, and ask someone, ‘Why do you feel the need to make fun of other people?’ ‘Are you that insecure that you have to bully those who are smaller than you?’ ‘Why are you doing this?’
Being a parent is such a consuming role, it can be difficult not to feel overwhelmed with all the lessons you need to remember. I understand the guilt parents feel when they must spend time away from their kids because of work, and that’s why I wanted to create a space where parents could help each other.
For my family, it is vital to have a group of other parents around me to have a community that understands what I am going through. There is no such thing as being the perfect parent, so if you are one of the ones thinking you will one day be perfect, please let that go right away. We are here to move the needle, here to help support our Gen Alpha into success and changing the world.
The key to stopping hate once and for all lies with us as parents and our willingness to raise the next generation to be better. There is no one size fits all and we can’t always have all the answers, but if we dedicate ourselves to being kind, and teaching kindness we will be on the right path.
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Dr. Zabina Bhasin. You can follow her mission on Instagram and her website. Follow her personal Instagram account here. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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