Raising accepting and inclusive kids

eggs in tray on white surface
By Psychologist Judy McKay

“Some people call me different but what does that mean? We’re all different  in some way, or you would be ME!” – Some Brains, Nelly Thomas

Children are curious, honest and open-minded. As they develop the capacity to understand who they are and compare themselves to others, they might start bombarding you with questions… “Why is?” “Why does xx…” “Why am I…?”. To assist, I have summarised my top 5 tips for helping your child understand and accept children with different needs. 

Parent Modelling

Be cautious of your personal biases and the language (e.g., labels, stereotypes, tone) you may use when talking about people who may be different to yourself (e.g., cultural background, people who are bi-lingual, gender, disability, mental health etc.). Kids are very perceptive and can pick up on these subtle nuances. 

Use child-friendly language and relevant examples

  • Keep it simple 
    1. Point out ways that they are different and the same to you and their siblings, discuss all the similarities they may have with their neuro-diverse peers. 
    2. Use analogies related to their interests e.g., Superheroes. They all have their superpowers and challenges however, they share a common goal to protect others and do good in the world. 

“Put yourself in their shoes”

Encourage them to understand how others have different thoughts and feelings to their own. Talk about situations when someone they know may have been upset, worried or disruptive and why they may have felt that way? 

Point out the strengths in children with different needs

  • Highlight the skills and unique abilities of children who have different needs e.g., 
    1. Their in-depth knowledge of certain topics. 
    2. Their ability to think differently in group work to come up with exciting ideas. 
    3. The different ways they communicate that may not involve talking!

Immerse them in diversity

There are so many beautiful books, tv shows, toys and opportunities in everyday life to experience, enjoy and celebrate the diverse community we are all a part of. 


Some Brains – A book celebrating neurodiversity by Nelly Thomas https://www.somekidsbooks.com/

3 Ways to Help Young Children Respect and Accept Diversity – Brookes Blog (brookespublishing.com)

Judy is a registered psychologist with a Master’s degree in Educational and Developmental Psychology. Judy has experience working with young people, their families and extended support networks across educational, clinical and community-based settings. Judy enjoys working creatively and flexibly with children and adolescents to explore their difficult emotions and experiences. In the past, Judy has supported young people experiencing a range of neuro-developmental disorders, anxiety, trauma, social skill and emotional regulation difficulties. Judy values the individual needs of each client and attempts to incorporate their personal interests, strengths and goals throughout therapy. Judy utilises a client-centred approach to her therapy which is grounded in cognitive-behaviour therapy and other evidenced-based techniques.

Judy has a background in providing pastoral care to children and adolescents within educational settings. These experiences have enabled Judy to connect and build relationships with students of all ages, in addition to understanding the challenges typically faced by school-aged children. Judy encourages her clients to take a holistic approach to therapy and values communication with a client’s wider support network. This helps to promote positive client outcomes across all aspects of day to day life. Outside of work, Judy loves spending time at the beach or in the countryside. She further enjoys playing social sports and prioritises spending time with friends and family.

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