Disability Awareness: 6 Things Parents Should Teach Their Kids About Disabilities
Teaching your children about how to behave around a person with a disability can be tricky and it is ever so easy to mess up a little on this one. Here are 6 ways to help your child think a little differently about disabilities.
1) Always ask before helping
Parents with good intentions might like to teach their children to always help a person with a disability. While you may think it is a great way to teach your children to be considerate it’s however extremely important that you ask the person with a disability if they would like help before doing so. It is vital that your children see a person with a disability as one with independence and choice and othered-ability as apposed to being completely helpless which will give your children the impression that a person with a disability are “less than”.
2) Answer their questions
It might not be often that your child sees another person with a disability; so when they do it will be a new experience and something they would naturally be curious about. It’s important that you don’t scold your children when they are curious. When your child asks a question, a simple answer at their level of comprehension is a perfect response.
Scolding might cause shame around the topic of disability. Answering their question will give them a greater understanding which will erase any fear and help them to treat a person with a disability with respect.
3) People with a disability are amazing too
Where possible it is important to show your child books or movies that have a positive spin on a disability. A great example of a positive spin on disability would be the tv show Glee where the character with a disability were just as talented, awesome and cool as their able-bodied counterparts. Although this might not be age appropriate for young children, a children’s show with celebrated characters with disabilities always goes a long way.
4) Teach your child about kindness
It seems like a simple thing but often children will exclude or bully other children and often children with a disability will be in the line of fire. While bullying or “othering” other children may seem like a normal thing in school it can be truly harmful. Teach your children to be kind to everyone and to include those that are disabled into groups of friends and activities. Kindness, respect and acceptance goes a long way.
5) Be careful about how you react yourself
Children are brand new to the world and absorb like sponges. If a parent is feeling nervous or anxious around someone with disabilities it will naturally make your child feel the same way because they learn from you. So when you’re next around someone with disabilities, putting those feelings aside and responding calmly and positively will in turn bring out the same positive behaviour in your child.
6) Our differences make us unique
Teaching a child that we are all different but we are all in this life together will help your child to see people with disabilities with no stigma attached and give them a greater sense of unity with those around them. When your child believes that everyone is unique and accepts people as they are it will help them to include everyone – including a classmate with disabilities or friend.
While your children may not always encounter people with disabilities it’s always good to have these few tips in your back pocket when the moment eventually arises. Moulding your children into becoming awesome adults is the ultimate goal and so raising them to be disability positive will go a long way in treating everyone around them with kindness and respect.