Why is it important to raise open-minded children?
In our increasingly globalized world, raising children to be open-minded means guaranteeing them an array of future opportunities, both personally and professionally. Not only will you raise children to be open, tolerant, and embracing of different perspectives, but you will instill important critical and logical thinking skills from which they will benefit their entire lives. How can you actively ensure you’re raising open-minded children? Here are a few tips you may find enlightening.
Understand what being open-minded is all about
Nowadays, many people think that being open-minded and tolerant simply means being “friendly to those of other cultures”. Although that’s a massive part of it, that’s not all there is to it. More broadly, it means being flexible enough to accept that there are very many ways to live, think and behave. It means not being stuck in a mindset that says “it’s MY way or the highway”. An open mind is infinitely curious and eager to learn and try new things, no matter how “strange” they may seem at first. One that understands there isn’t just one way of doing things.
How do you expose your children to different perspectives? Well, that’s where diversity comes in!
Expose your children to true diversity
Social diversity is about more than nationality – it is also, and perhaps more importantly, created by exposure to many people from many backgrounds and socio-economic classes. When choosing the right school for your child, for example, you’ll want one that emphasizes diversity – a school that’s renowned for its high academic achievements, cultural diversity, and also one that offers scholarships for less affluent but equally gifted children.
Attending an open-minded kindergarten and school means your child will see acceptance and respect as a normal part of life. Given they will spend the most formative years of their lives in their schooling environment, you must choose the right school – one that’ll help you in your quest to raise open-minded children. For example, some families who move to China for more cultural diversity might want to place their children into forward-thinking IB schools in China. The International Baccalaureate (IB) Programme is well-renowned for producing well-motivated students with excellent critical thinking abilities.
Be an open-minded role model
We all know that children absorb their learning from our actions as well as our words, so it’s imperative your own behavior matches what you wish to instill. Essentially, you need to ensure you are the open-minded person you wish your kids to be.
Children of open-minded parents are raised in homes where diversity is a part of everyday life – where family friends hail from different countries, weekends are spent attending a bevy of different cultural festivals, where both children and adults are exposed to various languages, food, and traditions. By showing your children that people from different cultures can be different yet still have loads of fun together, you’ll be teaching them to always search for commonalities that bind people, no matter where in the world they come from.
If you don’t think your family environment fits the bill just yet, changing to include more diversity in your life is a fantastic way to teach your children to be more inclusive and open-minded.
Don’t instruct them – guide them
Sometimes, in our busy lives, it’s just easier to do something for our children rather than helping them find a way to do it on their own. Yet if you wish to raise open-minded children, you need to dedicate a little more time to their tasks.
Open-mindedness results from an open learning environment, where children are guided, not instructed, to find solutions and answers from a variety of sources. By not providing just one solution straight off the bat (although you may want to), you’re teaching your child that there may be more than one way to fix an issue or find an answer. Doing this entices their critical-thinking skills and instills an open-minded view of the world. By all means, discuss various options together and see if you can “brainstorm” a solution, but let your child come to their own conclusions – sometimes they’ll make mistakes (great learning curves!), and sometimes they’ll get it right. But how will they ever develop an open-minded approach to solving problems otherwise?
Talk and listen to them, and teach them to do both too
Everyone wants to be heard when talking, and it is no different with children. Yet listening is perhaps the hardest task of all to teach children. When you listen to your child’s concerns and opinions and share yours, you’re teaching them fantastic skills they will carry throughout their lives. You’ll teach them to listen to and consider other viewpoints and perspectives, and this is what will turn them into open-minded adults.
Learn a new language together
Expat families who move abroad say that learning a new language together is one of the most bonding experiences they’ve ever had together. They also say that it’s helped the children bond with their new home country.
And it figures, right? Language learning is also culture learning, so alongside bagging new linguistic skills, you’ll also expose them to a new culture and history. Complement your language classes with food, movies, or traditions typical of the country, and you’ll all benefit in a myriad of ways.
Travel with them!
Mark Twain famously quipped that travel is “fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness”. It is indeed true that traveling is about the best way to expose children to the kind of diversity that will burst the floodgates of their minds wide open. Traveling is an insanely effective tool for raising open-minded children yet works best if the destinations are drastically different from your home country. Traveling to Canada from the US, for example, won’t be nearly as “mind-opening” as if you were to take the kids to China for a whirlwind culture tour de force.
Exposing children to many cultures, religions, traditions, ways of life, and value systems is about the best way to ensure your children become the open-minded adults the world needs!