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Dr. B's Blog

Teaching Tolerance to Children

As we mark the fifteen year anniversary of the tragic events of 9/11, we not only mourn the lives of those who perished, but reflect on how  feelings of hatred led to intolerance and destruction.

Tolerance is defined as the respect for and acceptance of others;  rejecting stereotypes and instead valuing the differences in people.  In essence, true tolerance is about accepting others' uniqueness and treating people the way we ourselves would like to be treated. Since children learn by watching and hearing what adults and especially what their parents do and say, the seeds of tolerance are planted early on in childhood. The ability to be kind and  empathetic  are important qualities that are developed from infancy, throughout childhood and into the teen years. Acknowledging and accepting children’s feelings as well as teaching them that their words and actions affect the emotions of others is the basis for developing tolerance.

Parents can teach tolerance by setting good examples for their children and having discussions with their children and teens about acceptance. According to the Kids Health organization, parents can do the following in order to help their children learn to be tolerant of others.

1.       Be conscious of your own attitudes and demonstrate respect for others.
2.       Don’t make jokes that perpetuate stereotypes. Although seemingly harmless, they can also be interpreted as disrespectful.
3.       Carefully select books, toys, music, DVDs because they may subtly reflect stereotyped attitudes.
4.       Media and pop culture has a powerful effect on children. Be aware of and point out to children any negative messages. For teenagers, discuss and be aware of hateful rhetoric to which they may be subtly or overtly exposed on social media.
5.       Answer kids’ questions about differences that they are noticing in others, honestly and openly. This teaches children that it is ok to be curious and comment on others' differences as long as it is done with respect.
6.       Acknowledge and celebrate differences among family members. Value the differences in children’s interests, talents and styles.
7.       Help children to establish good self- esteem, by making them feel accepted, respected and valued. Kids, who feel badly about themselves, may bully others, whereas children with strong self-esteem are more likely to treat others with respect.
8.       Give children multiple opportunities to interact with children who have different backgrounds at school, on playdates and through activities such as sports, music, art, clubs and camps.
9.       Educate children about your own family’s heritage and traditions so that can take pride in and  teach their peers about them too. In addition be open to learning about the culture and traditions of others so that children will be open-minded as well.
10.   Make children aware that tolerance doesn’t mean turning a blind eye to negative behaviors. Instead it means that everyone deserves to be treated with respect.
Since parents are a very important influence in the lives of their children,  modeling tolerance and teaching acceptance of differences, helps children develop the beliefs and behaviors that will hopefully enable them to coexist peacefully with others in the future.
                                                                                                                                                Dr. B
Posted: 9/12/2016 12:51:34 PM | 0 comments