The world is an incredibly diverse place, which is why it’s important to promote tolerance and acceptance in the next generation.
Disability is often a term that many people shy away from; however, understanding and addressing disability is a crucial aspect of raising empathetic and compassionate children. In this article, we’ll discuss how to talk to kids about disabilities while also approaching these conversations respectfully.
What is disability?
A disability is any type of health condition of the mind or body that makes it more difficult for a person to interact with the world around them and do specific activities. Around 1 in 5 people in Australia have some form of disability.
Why is it important to talk to children about disability?
Discussing disability with children is essential because it encourages tolerance, acceptance and understanding. This not only promotes a more inclusive society but also allows children to grow into more compassionate and empathetic individuals. It helps break down stereotypes and misconceptions that can lead to discrimination and prejudice.
What are the different types of disabilities?
People with disabilities are an incredibly diverse group and not all disabilities are visible. Some disabilities may be present from birth, while others may result from an illness or accident, or result from ageing.
Disability covers a range of symptoms and conditions including:
- Chronic pain or fatigue
- Hearing impairment
- Developmental delay
- Vision impairment
- Physical disability
- Mental health conditions
- Learning disorders
- Cognitive disability
Tips for talking to your child about disability respectfully
Here are 5 proactive tips on how to talk to kids about disabilities compassionately:
1. Use people-first language
People-first language emphasises the person before the disability. For example, it’s better to say “person who is deaf” rather than “deaf person”. This type of language highlights what a person has, rather than who they are. Words are powerful and the choices we make in our language can profoundly impact the way we perceive and relate to others.
As well as using people-first language yourself, teach your child the importance of using language that respects a person’s humanity rather than reducing them to their disability.
2. Be honest and accurate
Try not to discuss your assumptions of how a person may feel about their disability. Keep to the facts, be direct in your response, and answer any questions honestly. Don’t shy away from the word ‘disability’ and also remember to avoid using any derogatory terms.
Honesty and accuracy are key in discussing disability. Ensure that your child understands that it’s ok to ask questions and engage in open, respectful conversations about disability.
3. Be positive and inclusive
Emphasise similarities while also explaining that all differences, including disabilities, are what makes life more enriching. Point out that words like ‘wrong’ or ‘not normal’ shouldn’t be used when describing a person.
4. Be respectful of individual differences
Teach your child that it’s essential to respect how individuals with disabilities view and feel about their own situations. What may be empowering to one person might be different for another, and that’s perfectly acceptable. Use language that reflects the individual’s preferences and encourage your child to ask any questions when in doubt.
5. Be a role model
Children learn naturally through observation so it’s important to lead by example. Demonstrate empathy, inclusion, and respect in both your interactions with people who have disabilities and conversations about them. Your behaviour will serve as a powerful teaching tool for your child.
Fostering a more inclusive and tolerant tomorrow
Teaching and talking with kids about disability is a vital step in nurturing empathy, tolerance, and acceptance. By providing them with the knowledge and tools to understand and discuss disability respectfully, you’re contributing to a more inclusive and compassionate world where every individual is valued for who they are.
At Aurrum Kids, we understand the importance of these open-minded discussions. We make sure to teach the important values of acceptance, tolerance and empathy through our educational programs and activities. At each of our Aurrum Kids centres, we strive to create a learning environment where every child, regardless of their abilities, has a unique and valuable contribution to make to the world.
If you’d like to know more about how Aurrum Kids is inspiring the next generation to be compassionate and accepting of all individuals, get in touch with our team today and book a tour at one of our childcare centres.