Like Father, Like Son: Teaching Tolerance by Example


in Parenting Kids

If you are a parent, you know there are many challenges to raising your children. One of the biggest challenges you can face is that of teaching your children to be tolerant of others. This includes things like not being prejudiced, unkind and so on. The following is a guide to teaching your kids to be tolerant of others:

Tip one: Teach through example. Children are like sponges, and they absorb what they see. If they see you being intolerant, whether it is of someone’s race, religion, political stand, or whatever, they are going to mimic that behavior in their own social circles.

Teaching tolerance is a matter of being tolerant yourself, and showing your children instances when you may disagree with, or don’t understand others’ beliefs, but are still tolerant of them. As your children watch how you interact with others, and especially those that are not the same as you, they will learn to be tolerant as well.

Tip two: Teach through experience. Intolerance is often a result of fear. People fear things they do not understand. Misunderstanding of practices and beliefs often causes religious intolerance. Perpetuated slurs and assumptions often cause racial intolerance. Discomfort often causes intolerance of handicapped people, and so on. So, if you want to teach your children to be tolerant, you have to let them have positive experiences with all sorts of races, religious beliefs, and walks of life. If you want your child to be tolerant of the less fortunate, teach them about them. If you want to them to be tolerant of Catholics, Seventh-day Adventists, or Mormons, teach them about them. Knowledge leads to understanding, understanding, acceptance. Acceptance is the opposite of intolerance. So, teach your children, and give them experiences where they get to know, respect, or befriend those they may have been intolerant of.

Tip three: Be firm. When your toddler harasses another toddler because they wear glasses, have a funny name, or doesn’t like the same things they do, do not ignore it. Firmly explain to them that it is unacceptable behavior, and while they do not have to be best friends with the kid, they will treat them with respect. Continue this practice as your child grows up. If you allow them to be intolerant, ignore it, or do not address it, then prejudice, and intolerance continues and grows. If you pull it up by the roots before it has a chance to set in, then you stop it from growing. Teach your child to be tolerant of others no matter what.

Bias is something that children learn, they are not born with it. They may learn it from television, from you, from others, from friends, from books, etc. but your job as a parent is to put a stop to it, and to teach your children that acceptance, understanding and love are far better options than hate and bias. As your child sees the benefits of love versus hate, they will grow to be upstanding and worthwhile human beings.

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