During early childhood, children learn how to respond to others from the relationships they develop with adults. By building a strong relationship with your child from an early age, you can help them to understand and accept differences in others. Research has shown that children are capable of developing negative attitudes and prejudices from about three years old.
 
Children who experience warm, responsive and trusting relationships are more likely to feel that they are accepted and respected. By growing a positive relationship with your child, you also develop their social and emotional learning skills and help them to be accepting and inclusive of others later in life. 
 
Warm, responsive and trusting relationships are strengthened through repeated experiences of ‘give and take’, such as learning to share and taking turns. This helps children to understand the feelings of others and how to think things through before acting. 
 
You can help build a positive relationship with your child by:
  • being a positive role model for inclusion –  show through your actions how to be caring and respectful towards others
  • taking time to play with your child, enjoy shared experiences and create ‘teamwork experiences’ where each person has a role – these will all help develop your child’s understanding of inclusiveness, respect and what belonging means 
  • allowing your child to get involved in making decisions such as what to have for lunch – this promotes discussion, compromise and negotiation skills
See the KidsMatter information on the importance of family for more information.