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What to do When Your Child Speaks Their Mind About Someone’s Differences

By: Isabella Carson

Everyone is different in their own unique way. When children are young they do not realize that pointing out these differences out loud can be harmful or offensive. Rachel Garlinghouse tells a story of her godson who was born with a few birth defects that made him look a little different than other children. He is a very happy little boy who unfortunately garners stares and whispers from those who have trouble with people who look different. One day the little boy, Trae, and his mother were grocery shopping when a child stated that the baby looked weird. This child’s mother shushed him and hurried away. Trae’s mother was angry because this is not what a parent should do in this situation. When your child points out a child’s differences here are ways that you should respond:

1. Apologize to the parent and the child. Make sure that they know that you are sincere and do not make excuses. State that your child was being rude and spoke inappropriately.

2. Introduce yourself and your child. Make sure that you say hello to the person that your child was pointing out, especially if it is a young child. Ask them how they are doing.

3. Don’t ask questions about the child’s differences. There is no need to know about the history or condition unless the parent of the child or the child themselves offer up the information. You do not want to pry and make them feel uncomfortable.

4. Talk with the child with some small talk. Have your child speak with that child while you talk to the parent. You may even end up forming a friendship just by having a small conversation with each other.

5. Once you are back in a private place with your child explain to them why their comment was wrong and make sure that you teach them the right thing to do. Let them know that any questions or comments that they may have about someone who is different should be asked at home.

6. Kids always say things even if they don’t mean what comes across. Many do not have a filter yet so they say what comes to their minds. Remember this when they speak their minds about someone in public. Kids will be kids and they shouldn’t be punished if they do not know any better. Use the mistake as an opportunity to teach them about the right way to handle a situation like that should it come up again.

7. Look at your circle of friends and think about the diversity of the crowd you and your child interact with. If you tend to stick with people who are much like you or your child spends most of their time with other kids who look just like them they won’t have an understanding that there are others who are different.

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