5 Ways to Teach Tolerance to Your Kids

In this day and age, bullying is on the forefront of the news and people everywhere are standing up and taking notice of the effects that intolerance can have on children and adults.  In the past, intolerance was sometimes laughed off and kids picking on one another was considered just part of childhood.  However, with the advent of social media, it has become clear that we need to teach our children tolerance as early as possible.  How can you do it?  Let’s discuss 5 simple ways.

•Expose them to diverse groups.  This is a simple one and sort of a “duh” but sometimes people don’t realize how much they are shielding their children from the real world.  That is not to say that they should or could know and understand everything about race, sexuality or religion, for example.  However, it does mean that they should have been exposed to some different types of people before they reach elementary school.  They should meet as many different ethnicities as possible, spend time with people with disabilities or handicaps and learn about the intrinsic value of every person.

•Model tolerance.  Kids watch you to decide what they should do.  If they see that you have a diverse friend group, are kind and tolerant toward those that are different from you and that you have an appreciation for different cultures, then they will too. However, if they see you act intolerant or make rude comments about others, then they will assume that those people are not worthy of kindness.  You may not mean to set a bad example but you need to be aware of the things that you say when you are angry, when you are tired, when someone has offended you or when you think your kids aren’t listening.

•Read to them.  Reading to children is the easiest way to broaden their horizons on many topics.  They can learn about different types of foods, different cultures, different countries and more.  There are also many wonderful children’s book specifically about the idea of tolerance and kindness.

•Try not to impose stereotypes on them.  We don’t even mean to but we often do so. That’s the first way that they learn about division and become aware that they fit into a box.  If they fit into a box then it follows that their peers do to.  When their peers don’t behave in the ways that they have come to expect, they may be intolerant.  Tolerance starts with you.

•Be aware of their friends and what they are saying.  If your child spends a lot of time with a family or with a specific child in their home or riding home from school, etc. then those people will have an influence on them.  Be careful who you let your children spend a lot of time around.  Not all children, or adults, are tolerant.

Tolerance, is something we learned.  If you want your child to be kind, loving, tolerant and fair, then you need to model that for them every day.  Let them see you “walk the walk” rather than just “talk the talk.”