Today, tolerance is one of those virtues that every child needs but very few actually have. The world has become a more diverse place than ever before. Since your child is going to grow up in this diverse society, it is your duty as a parent to instil tolerance in them. This way, they will learn to accommodate the origins and cultures of other people while remaining true to their own.
What is Tolerance?
Tolerance is the opposite of prejudice. It is an attitude of respect and openness between people who are different from each other. This includes people of different races, genders and beliefs, and also people who have physical and intellectual differences.
In this way, tolerance is all about treating others the way you want to be treated. Being tolerant means finding a common ground and forming new bonds with people who are different from you. To do this, you first have to respect and be willing to learn from others, bridge cultural gaps, value differences and reject unfair stereotypes.
When you accept people for who they are, you become a more tolerant person. However, this does not mean that you should accept all behaviours. When certain behaviours cause harm to others and break social rules, you should not tolerate them. So things like bullying, lying, and stealing should not be tolerated.
Why teach tolerance to your kids?
In order for a society to move forward, all its members need to have a voice. This is one of the main reasons why tolerance is so important today. It is the glue that helps us build peaceful, prosperous societies.
When kids are tolerant, they feel relaxed and become more open to ideas from different cultures. In the process, they end up learning a lot. They'll also get to enjoy different experiences and ideas from other cultures.
An open-minded attitude in life opens lots of doors. It is the key to success in business, art, leisure, lifestyle and more. Therefore, if you want your kids to have a successful future, you need to teach them how to work with others. They should learn not to be afraid to step out of their comfort zone, and they should be taught to understand, respect and appreciate other people for who they are.
How Tolerance Is Taught
Tolerance is an attitude. This means it can only be taught in subtle ways. Classes and lessons will never be as effective as lessons drawn from real life, especially to kids who are constantly developing their own values. They learn best by imitating those closest to them - in this case, that's you, the parent.
Tolerant parents raise tolerant kids. It's pretty straightforward if you think about it because your kids learn from you, and when you are a tolerant person, you can teach them a lot by simply being yourself.
Whenever possible, live in, work in, and interact with diverse communities. Make friends with people who are different from you and let your kids meet them. By doing this, your children will learn tolerance by imitating your values.
How Parents Can Teach Tolerance
Apart from being a good example to them, there are other ways to teach tolerance to your kids. For instance, talking to them is a good place to start. It will help them learn more about the kind of people you want them to be.
You can also create opportunities for them to play and work with people who are different from them. This can be a great first-hand lesson if you want them to learn all about how everyone has something to contribute. It will also help them to experience the differences and similarities that people in general have.
You should also consider using positive reinforcement to make the lessons of tolerance stick with them. Encourage them by letting them know how proud you are of them and rewarding them by buying them gifts whenever they work as a team and show tolerance.
Here are a few more things you can do to help your kids learn tolerance:
- Be mindful of your attitudes. If you want to help your kids to be more tolerant people, look at your own attitudes first. Be sensitive to intolerant stereotypes that you may have picked up over the years and make an effort to correct them. Be respective to others and your children should follow suit.
- Beware of how you talk about people who are different from yourself. Whether you like it or not, your kids are always listening. Be careful not to make jokes that perpetuate stereotypes in the first place. They might seem like harmless fun but will quickly undo any attitudes of tolerance and respect that your children might have already formed.
- Keep in mind the powerful effect that media and entertainment have on your child’s perspective. When you are selecting books, music, art, toys and videos for your kid, remember that these will shape how your child will view the world in general. If you see any unfair stereotypes that portrayed in the media, be sure to point them out and talk openly about them.
- When asked about differences by your kids, answer these questions as honestly and respectfully as you possibly can. Open discussions are tremendously important as long as you do them with respect.
- Acknowledge and celebrate the differences within your family. Do this to demonstrate acceptance to your children. You can point out their differing abilities, styles and interests. Emphasize that you value everybody’s uniqueness.
- Help your kids feel good about themselves. Build up their self-esteem because children who have negative views of themselves are more likely to treat others with prejiduce. Make them value and respect themselves and they will become more tolerant of others. Do everything you can to make sure that your children feel respected, accepted, valued and loved.
- Sit together and learn about the holiday and religious celebrations from different parts of the world. Take the time to appreciate traditions that are different from yours.
- Make sure that your child understands the value of your family’s traditions. Honour these traditions and teach them to your kids. Make them feel proud of the diversity they have to offer to the world.
At the end of the day, the good news is that kids are impressionable and easy to teach. They can easily tell the difference between good and bad behaviour. That's why it all starts with you as their parent and first teacher. Encourage a tolerant attitude in your kids by leading from the front.
You can also shape their characters from an early age by being open with them and setting clear expectations. Talk to them about these values. This way, your kids will quickly learn how important they are in life and adapt them.