Travel helps kids value difference

Why travel with your kids? Because travel helps them value difference, writes Renee Krosch.

Difference is a big part of life. It’s everywhere.

Seeing how people live differently, eat differently, dress differently is the essence of travelling.

But appreciating difference and valuing it is something we need to teach our kids.

Dr Fiona White is a social psychologist at Sydney University and has spent years studying racial prejudice.

“A lot of the psychological research shows that children learn about race from a very young age and can categorise around racial differences as early as three.”

However negative attitudes toward difference, or racial prejudice, don’t develop straight away.  This happens around the ages of eight or nine according to the research.

So why does racial prejudice develop and how is it curtailed? Do children innately equate difference with a bad or negative feeling?

“No, they learn it between the ages of around three to eight years of age. They learn that there is a negative connation to difference, through books, media, peers, parents, playgroups and other social constructs.”

“Exposure alleviates this categorisation developing into prejudice. It teaches that there is difference, but there is also similarity. That you can have something in common with a child (who is different), through play, sharing a sense of fun and enthusiasm for life.

“But it relies very much on parents explaining the context of the exposure, explaining about the culture within a positive framework, in a co-operative way, showing the similarities rather than emphasising the differences.

“Exposure is absolutely imperative”, she explains. “When we form racial stereotypes, it’s because we don’t know the people – there’s so much unknowing – ignorance.

“But when children are exposed, it allows them to NOT rely on the stereotyped, negative thinking of that group.

And travel is one of the most effective ways to expose them to difference.

Listen to the interview here:

Renee Krosch is a mother of two and producer at 702 ABC Sydney.