The recent terrorist attacks in France had shaken everyone up. It shook me up. People are justifiably angry about what happened, however, many are also stereotyping Muslims and stating that they are all terrorists. If you are doing this as well, firstly please stop because not all Muslims are terrorists. Secondly, if you have kids or if you are around kids while you talk about it, they are listening. You are inadvertently teaching them that it is okay to say that all Muslims are terrorists or if you are stereotyping others, they are listening to that as well. Do you want your kids to become bigoted and racist? Any decent person would not want to see that at all.
If you had made such a statement out of anger and fear, and your child heard you- you must talk to your child right away and tell him/her that you were wrong to say what you said. It is very important for children to realize that there are good people and not so good people, regardless of race, group or religion. You must let them know that there are many peaceful and nice people who are part of the Islamic faith. In fact, let your children know there are many Muslims who are speaking against terrorism, and show them examples by doing searches on it.
Your children will also hear other people stereotype groups. It is your responsibility to teach your children that stereotyping is wrong, otherwise your children will think it is okay to judge and to hate. I will list other common stereotypes that your children will hear! Again it is your job to dispel all of it.
All blacks are criminals and/or poor– In order to dispel this common stereotype, you need to point out that there are indeed very nice and very wealthy black people around. Think of your own positive experiences you can share. Do Google searches on wealthy black business owners, and share the articles with your kids.
All whites are racist– There are many whites who have helped others that were not white, go find examples and share those with your kids.
All Jews are rich and greedy– It is very important for children to learn about Hitler and the Holocaust, and the atrocities that happened. There are also many Jews who have struggled financially and who have lived under the poverty line. There are many Jews who have given a lot of themselves as well, go find examples. Google is resourceful.
Asians are slow drivers– I actually knew of a teenager of Chinese descent who had gotten numerous speeding tickets. There are plenty of others around like him as well.
Indians don’t bathe– I have encountered many people who don’t bathe, and who do smell and none of them were Indian. The Indians who I have encountered have always been clean.
People with mental illnesses and depression are nutcases– This stereotype is not only wrong, but dangerous. Not only would they discriminate their friends who may be diagnosed with depression, however what if your child one day is diagnosed with a mental illness? He or she is going to think that he or she is crazy and that will take even more of a toll on your child’s self esteem. Here is another blog post I had written about this particular stereotype.
There are many other common stereotypes that need to be dispelled other than these few I have provided. Do a search on them and teach your children early on that they are untrue and unacceptable. Teach your children tolerance and acceptance immediately. They will not only be tolerant but will recognize ignorance from elsewhere and ignore it- or better yet try to create awareness like I am doing now!
Help your children feel good about themselves. Kids who feel badly about themselves often treat others badly. Kids with strong self-esteem value and respect themselves and are more likely to treat others with respect, too. Help your child to feel accepted, respected, and valued.