We don’t want to force our views on kids. Instead, we want to create an environment where kids can lower their guard and feel safe to be curious about the thoughts, opinions, and feelings of others. We must create a positive backdrop so that kids do not feel threatened when others have a different thought, opinion, or feeling. We want them to discover, at their own pace, that opinions and perspectives are not right or wrong. They are just different. We want kids to understand that I can think one way while you think another, and this does not mean we are enemies. We can share space and hear what each other has said, respect it, and allow this to strengthen our relationship. As we find our mutual connections, it feels comfortable. But as we discover interesting differences, it helps us grow. We develop friendships and relationships that are interesting because two people are never completely the same.
So, how do we help kids who may be naturally defensive in the area of different opinions, get to a place of openness? The answer is to truly model being open. Show that you can share space and be with the child through the ups and downs of different opinions, without judgement. Give kids many opportunities to hear your language, as you notice different opinions, and as a result, many opportunities to feel safe in that space. Give kids experience disagreeing with you while observing that all is okay. Show how you won’t have a big emotional response when they think differently about something. Show how you will note it, and embrace it.
To learn more about Declarative Language Handbook and to download some free worksheets to help kids learn, share and appreciate different opinions visit Declarative Language