I believe strongly In encouraging children to be open and respectful of everyone regardless of their differences, That everyone should be loved regardless of their race, gender, sexuality, religion, or any other differences. With most of the children I visit/mentor/care for it's easy to teach these lessons because I have the support of the parents in doing so.

However, for a few of the kids I visit I'm not as confident the parents would support direct discussions about these sort of things. In some cases I know the parents are not fully supportive of LGBT+ community or other religions, in other cases I don't think the parents would say they are unsupportive, but I still suspect they would not appreciate my having a frank conversation with their child about these topics. For instance they may say the child is too young to discuss these things etc. I personally believe kids can handle honest conversations from a very young age and waiting to discuss important ideas is a bad idea; but it's not my decision.

Given the nature of my volunteering it's very important for me to respect the parents wishes, and so I don't intend to actively discuss things with their children that I don't believe their parents would approve of, regardless of my own beliefs. However, I feel there may be some smaller things I can do to help encourage children to be open to alternative views without saying or doing anything that the parents would actively disprove of my doing.

I'm looking for these sort of 'subtler' steps I can take to encourage children to stay open minded while being minor enough to not offend less open parents, or parents who believe children are too young to have frank discussions yet.

I visit children from early teens all the way down to toddler age, so I'm open for tips that would work with any age groups, Though most of my experience is with kids 7 and younger. I'd love to have ideas of how to encourage tolerance in any and all ages of children.

  • 6
    To get better answers, you might want to be a little clearer in your exact role and your exact relationship with the kid/parents. Is this a Big Brother/Big Sister sort of thing (ie, you are visiting them to mentor them and have a relationship over time), for example? Or are you a kind of counselor? Or like a babysitter, tutor, or other person with a defined relationship?
    – Joe
    Jul 1, 2020 at 21:36
  • I think you should respect the parents' wishes. Jul 11, 2020 at 7:08

1 Answer 1


One piece of advice I received from a friend, who is a teacher, is to lean on books to help with the conversation. So I invested in new books focused on diversity and inclusion. Lots of multicultural stories and stories that emphasize how we all have differences and that they should be celebrated. That could be a way to have a very natural conversation without going too deep into areas parents aren't comfortable having you discuss.

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