Did you see that Sesame Street now has an autistic character? Sesame Street has always been amazing and now they just got more amazing. Everyone will benefit from having the autistic character, the kids with autism, their parents as well as the kids and parents that do not have autism. The population that does not have exposure to this directly will benefit from knowing how to respond to autistic children and their parents.
This goes way farther than just talking about autism and educating about autism, this is about acceptance of people and children for who they are. The autistic child deserves to be respected and treated fairly and loved just as much as the child that is Spanish, Baptist, has cancer, is female, etc. Teaching acceptance to children is part of being a parent. Teaching compassion and empathy is part of being a parent because it teaches love.
I’m going to test your limits now and suggest that you practice what you preach. Teaching children to play nicely with others seems obvious to most people, however, lots of parents do not play well with others based on ethnicity, religious beliefs, health diagnosis and gender to name a few. Children learn more from what we do as opposed to what we say. If those things don’t match up then the result for children is confusion which can cause stress. I call it, parents speaking out of both sides of their mouths, and have conversations with parents and kids in therapy about this often. It’s usually the children that bring it up because they don’t understand what the expectations are, “Do I like all people or only the ones that go to my church?”
The Golden Rule Solution by Brooks Gibbs states that all religions have one common denominator which is to treat others the way that you want to be treated. This one rule speaks to acceptance and love and almost everyone has heard this at some point in their lifetime. I’m not stating anything life altering yet it can be completely life altering when put into practice. It reminds me of the saying, “If you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all”. That’s one of my favorites that I use with more adults than I do children. Children actually learn it faster than adults.
Here are some steps for you to ensure that your children are amazing adults:
1. Treat children and others the way that you want to be treated.
2. Practice what you preach.
3. Teach compassion and empathy.
4. If you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all.
5. And above all, Love! Love them, love others, love yourself.
Sesame Street has always taught great lessons to children and they continue to help us remember the basics about humanity and kindness.
For more articles or videos about Parenting visit my website www.ParentTalkWithKary.com and for a free 15 minute phone consultation call or email me at kary@ParentTalkWithKary.com
Kary Valdes, LCSW