Teaching Your Child Tolerance in an Intolerant World
Diversity is what makes the world beautiful, but the current times are volatile, and people are becoming increasingly intolerant. When we turn on the news, we are bombarded with messages of hate for people who are different. As parents, the best thing we can do is recognize this is happening around us and make a real effort to bring forth change starting in our homes.
Kids Health explains, “Tolerance means respecting and learning from others, valuing differences, bridging cultural gaps, rejecting unfair stereotypes, discovering common ground, and creating new bonds. Tolerance, in many ways, is the opposite of prejudice.” Using this definition as a starting point, here are some ways to teach your child tolerance in an intolerant world:
Your children learn more from watching you and mirroring you than they do from any lectures. Therefore, it is critical that you model tolerance in your home. If you are prejudiced against others, your children will notice. In the same way, if your children see you treat people who are different than you with the same respect as everyone else, they will also take note.
Give them more exposure
To help your child understand tolerance, they need to have opportunities to practice it. For example, this means they need to have regular exposure to people who are not like them to see why diversity is something to rejoice in rather than denounce.
Talk about it
Have open discussions with your children about tolerance. Explain what tolerance means and what it looks like (and what it does not look like). Point out examples of people who are tolerant and those who are intolerant.
Be careful to avoid stereotyping. Watch out for jokes, television programming, music, or toys that seem to perpetuate stereotypes. Keep in mind that stereotyping is not just associated with race – you should also avoid gender stereotyping.
Allow kids to ask hard questions
Children notice differences, but rather than shush them when they ask why someone looks different, allow them to ask questions. While it may feel uncomfortable at first, it is teaching your children that differences are normal and acceptable. Plus, it is better to give your child a respectful answer than a harsh reprimand to “Be quiet.”
Celebrate cultural traditions
Celebrate your cultural and religious traditions. And, then take time to learn about the customs and traditions of other cultures. These conversations and experiences will encourage your children to embrace the world around them.
Remind kids of their value
Finally, remind your children of their unique value. Children with higher self-esteem are less likely to be intolerant of those who are different. Therefore, show your children how much you love and accept them.
A better world starts with tolerance, and what better place to teach it than your own home.