Do you like being judged? What kind of question is that, right? No one likes to be judged.
Okay, then, have you judged others? Before you go on a self-righteous, “I am open minded” gig, think again. All of us do judge others – the magnitude differs and what we do about the judgment differs. This is mainly because we have definitive thoughts about what is right and what is wrong. These are most likely ingrained in our brains from our childhood. Some of us break free from it and do become more “open”. But even then, there would still be ideas that seem outrageous to you! Knowingly or unknowingly, you judge other parents, your parents-in-law, your neighbors and even other children.
Why Do We Judge?
Have you ever wondered what causes you to label people as wearing the ‘wrong’ clothes, being the ‘wrong’ height, ‘wrong’ weight, or raising their kids the wrong way? Think about it – we judge people because what they are, or what they do challenges the socially acceptable norms of society, deeply embedded within us. It is a natural instinct to judge people because they may seem different or new to us, because they do not fit into our definition of morality. Lack of empathy and compassion, coupled with little or no understanding on many subjects, and our very own beliefs imbibed in us as kids – all make us judgmental and defensive of what we perceive as right. We pass on the same legacy to our kids, because we are constantly judging others, all the time.
So if your child grows up to be judgmental, then that is no cause for any surprise! Your views on things – be it about parenting, be it about schooling, be it about other people’s choices (to be a single parent, to be a divorcee, to be a homosexual, and so on) – are also imparted on your child. They might come out of some of it. But these will always remain their foundation. So how will you raise a non-judgmental child? Here are:
10 Tips To Ensure You Raise A Non-Judgmental Child
Children are kind and compassionate beings, and it is our duty to raise them as empathetic and moral adults, but we also need to educate them about separating morality from judgment. Let’s see how.
- Think before you say “That is right!”: Most often, when you say “it is right”, you mean it is “socially acceptable”. If your toddler comes and asks you “Can a boy only marry a girl?”, do you say “that is right”? If you do, you are indirectly labeling same sex marriages as wrong. Is this what you intend your child to believe? If that is not the case, then you need to learn to say “I agree and that is socially acceptable”. There is a host of difference that one line makes
- Think before you say “That is wrong!”: Most often, when you say “it is wrong”, you mean you “disagree”. If your toddler finds out one of his peer is still breastfeeding, for example, and he comes and asks you about it, do you say that “you are a good boy, you stopped drinking milk from mommy when you were one year old itself. What the other boy is doing is wrong?”. Breastfeeding a toddler is not “wrong”. You just disagree to it based on your thoughts and beliefs. Labeling things as wrong that might not be very common is encouraging judgement to anything that we are not familiar with
- Introduce your child to different people: One way to open up your child’s mind is to introduce him to different kinds of people from different walks of lives. People who are poor, homeless, kids studying in government schools, kids who are autistic and so on. The more they see you interact nicely with different kinds of people, the better they become in accepting them
- Increase your child’s exposure to other cultures: We live in a global society and there is no saying where your child’s future will take him. So it is important to introduce him to different cultures. What is acceptable in one culture could be a taboo in another. And vice versa. Through travels and stories, ensure your child understand these differences
- Celebrate differences: So he understands people and cultures are different. People still can have a “my way or highway” attitude despite understanding these differences. What is more important than understanding is to celebrate these differences. Have they met someone who is “different?” Try to get him talking about why he felt that person was different. Tell him it is OK to be different. The world is an interesting place because we are all different
- Think before saying someone or something is “bad”: We mostly judge people who are different because familiarity is much more safe and secure in our head. Anything that is new or hasn’t been explored by us becomes an unfamiliar territory and so it is “bad”. So when we label something or someone as “bad”, we are truly saying “this is different from what I have known till now. It is so new. I am not sure what I feel about it.” New is not necessarily bad, and unless we have given a chance to new, we will never know. It is important to teach your child that there are two sides to every coin and always listen to the other side of the story before making up their mind on things and people
- Differentiate between facts and opinions: People become judgmental when they cannot differentiate between actual facts and opinions. When your child comes and asks you a tricky question, be it about single parents, transgenders they spot on road, sex etc., make sure the child understands it when you are giving your opinion. There is no doubt some of us want our kids to follow our opinions in many of these “sensitive” matters. This is alright, but ensure that the child understands this is an opinion and that there are different opinions about the topic out there
- Encourage free play: Researchers say that free play helps a child being open minded and less judgmental. By free play, we mean providing kids with open ended play environments – like a sand pit. The child is free to do what they want. There is no “right” or “wrong” way of doing things
- Watch your language: There is one thing we all need to remember. The child is always listening. Even when it doesn’t look like he is. When you unknowingly pass comments about someone who is fat or someone who is from a different race, your child picks it up. Being mindful or our language is extremely tricky but also extremely important. Sexism and racism are often picked up from homes. It is not wrong to have an opinion – but ensure that it does not get grilled into your child’s head
- Find teaching moments: After all these teaching moments, your child goes ahead and pass a huge judgmental comment about someone? Relax. Remember you are not the only influential person in your child’s life. They might have observed someone from the neighborhood or school passing some judgmental comments and picked it up from there. Rather than overreacting, find a teachable moment and start a conversation about why being judgmental is not right