Teach Your Judgmental Child to Be Open Minded

Find out how to get the judgmental child to stop being judgmental, end narrow mindedness, and develop an open-minded attitude in life.

Problems Ahead for the Judgmental Child

One of the challenges of raising children in today's culture of first impressions and stereotyped judgments is to help them develop an open-minded attitude that allows for the acceptance of the differences between themselves and others. Unfortunately, too often this is not the case. Snap judgments, arbitrary thinking, and social pigeon-holing become the customary methods of rejecting that which is different or disagreeable. This narrow mindedness has devastating consequences in the areas of interpersonal problem-solving and tolerance for authority, while it also sets up the child for a variety of social problems as they age.

How to Get Your Judgmental Child to Stop Being Judgmental

Those parents who witness these patterns of harsh judgment in their children may want to consider the following coaching tips to quell narrow mindedness and help the child with being open minded:

Imparting social tolerance begins at home. Parents who freely disclose their own social prejudices are implicitly encouraging their children to follow. Speaking negatively about other families, teachers, or neighbors teaches children to focus on the flaws of others. Ultimately, this guides your child to a narrowed life and threatens to reveal them as a social bigot. Parents impart social tolerance when they express appreciation for the good intentions of others, make allowances for mistakes or oversights, and help children consider background factors that effect the behavior of others.

Stress the benefits of "big-picture thinking." This coaching method attempts to broaden a child's view of others by discussing how circumstances, hidden intentions, and personality factors are related to the actions of others. Encourage your child to suspend negative judgment and prompt them to consider alternate and benign explanations for how someone behaved. Use the format of "Is it nice, mean, or in-between?" to depict how many behaviors fall into the "in-between" category due to the various reasons that underlay the actions of others.

Emphasize that most people make quick negative judgments of others under certain circumstances. Provide specific examples of how this happens in your life and your efforts to plan ahead to bring more tolerance to the situation. Suggest to your child that they have specific triggers that push their "judgment buttons," such as a peer ignoring their hello or a teacher raising his/her voice. Label these behaviors as ones that quickly press their "auto judge" buttons. Challenge them to find a reason to forgive the person for their hurtful action, and praise them for not giving in to the automatic and hurtful path of judgment.

Don't hesitate to point out the long term costs of becoming a judgmental person. Although it may be difficult for some children to grasp the notion of "personality under formation," it is helpful to start educating them about the process of "social education." Explain how their views of the diverse social world is directly related to how successful and happy they will eventually be within it as an adult. Encourage them to build a better social person inside themselves today, so they will have a better social life tomorrow.

APA Reference
Richfield, S. (2019, August 6). Teach Your Judgmental Child to Be Open Minded, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 23 from

Last Updated: August 6, 2019

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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