How can we teach tolerance to kids?

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Raising a child is tough. You have to teach them all the basic stuff in life like how to walk, how to read, how to write, how to eat, how to tie their shoes, and much, much more. If that list isn’t long enough you also have to teach them all that intangible stuff that is so tricky for adults to understand nevermind children. This means that you may try and avoid these tougher items and hope they pick them up in school. Yet the difference between a well-functioning adult and someone who is a little more difficult is whether they have been taught these key skills from a young age. In a world that is getting smaller and smaller one of the most important things to teach is tolerance.

Tolerance is a broad subject. While today the news and media are focused on the lack of tolerance in the world regarding race this subject also looks at religion, disabilities, culture, and much, much more. Basically the ability to be tolerant and open to anything that is different. This is something you want for your child.

Do you want your child to be willing to try new foods, to welcome new cultures, to be open to the ever-changing world around them? Or do you want them to always say no, to stay still and only be comfortable in situations they are extremely secure in? If you answered the second option then you are on the wrong website.

This is a tough task for parents because there is so much ground to cover. You want to teach them about disabled people, about different races, about the little differences that exist in the world and are perfectly ok. Where to start? How are you supposed to have all the answers?

Don’t worry. Take a deep breath and relax and realize that you do not have to solve world peace today. You simply have to go on this journey with your child. The worst thing you can do is nothing at all. A lot of parents believe that by showing their children that equality is right in how they act they are showing their children to be pro-equality. The sad truth is that the world is not an equal place and unless you make a serious effort to show them what is right and wrong they may grow up thinking that the status quo is ok. You need to teach them that it isn’t.

This means actively pursuing knowledge about tolerance. Whether this is looking at a different culture every weekend and trying to find different festivals that celebrate diversity or visiting a care facility for those with special needs. In all cases teach your child that we are no better than any person we are all just different. This means trying to see the world from their point of view, how they were raised, and what opportunities they have. It may mean teaching your child to value how lucky they are to have a nice home and comfortable life and it may mean teaching a child that everyone deserves to see their best smile.

If you don’t know the answer to any of the tougher questions then do some research but take your child with you. Show them that it is ok not to know something but that if there is something you don’t know you should try and find out. It is impossible to fight prejudice while being ignorant. While there is a lot we don’t know in this world there are few things we should be satisfied with not knowing. It is the pursuit of knowledge that builds character.