While I was pregnant with our second child, we made sure that our eldest son understood that there was a baby in my tummy. When visiting friends of ours, he confidently pointed to one of the guys who had a bit of a tummy and said “baba”. Even though the situation and background is completely different, children do stare and point at people that seem different. More so, people with disabilities that might be wheelchair bound or that might move differently.
Worth does not depend on size, functional ability or the way a person communicates. Therefore an adult has the same value as a child with/without a disability and an unborn baby, even though their size and functional ability differs greatly. The beauty of life is that every person is unique!
How do we stop our children from pointing to children with disabilities or people that are different from us? I think we need to educate our children with books and videos about people with disabilities, to show how they do life and what their challenges might be. It will show them that we are all different and we all have different abilities. Someone in a wheelchair might not be able to walk, but how cool is it that they have a wheelchair! Research shows that reading books with children actually increases their compassion as they put themselves in the shoes of the characters of different people.
Sometimes when we see a child with a disability we want to avoid eye contact and quiet our children if they ask a question. Or some good willing parents use the situation as an opportunity to educate their child, but at the expense of the person. Or some people want to show that they care and then ask about their medical history (which is private by the way). I think keep it simple….say “hello!” If the situation is appropriate, your child can greet the other child. Who knows, a friendship might come from the greeting. Be sensitive and read the situation, some parents are more private and others might welcome conversation.
We need to be intentional in raising children who not only see all people as equal, but also desire to connect with different people from different spheres of life. If we think about it, we are all winners on the podium of life, because at conception we were all FIRST…!!