I’ll use myself as an example. To get to my house, a four-lane road merges into a two-lane highway. (You see where I’m going with this, don’t you?) If there are enough cars, someone goes first, and someone else goes second. At rush hour, many people lose their manners to a “me first” race. I, too, have lost my manners there, all for a second or two lead over another car. It’s ridiculous! There’s an opportunity here for me to practice zenness and model inclusive behavior to a young passenger by saying, “I’ll let that car in. In order to be safe, each driver needs to include others, so we can all get on the highway.” That’s simple to do and say, though not easy when you want to be shouting, “Jerk!” It’s, however, a much better example to set.
What other places could you demonstrate inclusion? Anytime there are two or more, inclusion can be practiced. The key is to talk about the inclusion and how it makes all involved feel.
At home – Who gets the bathroom first? Who gets the last cookie? Who includes their sibling in play with friends? Parents can give positive feedback whenever they notice a child being inclusive. It’s also important that all family members do chores, because that’s another example of inclusiveness.
Out and about – Ideas about parents role modeling inclusion are limitless. Consider your daily opportunities. Do you ask others to sit with you during ballgames or other spectator sports? Do you offer to share snacks with others? Do your kids observe you doing random acts of kindness? Have you held someone else’s crying baby, demonstrating that it does take a village to raise a child and that we’re all part of that village? Have your children seen you sharing in others’ grief? All of these are examples of inclusiveness.
The more adults show inclusiveness, the more inclusive kids become. It starts with us. We all can help future generations experience less relational aggression, physical and cyber-bullying, homophobia, racism, xenophobia, sexism, and other exclusionary practices by modeling the change we wish to see.