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Teaching Children to Be Tolerant and Unbiased
Children start noticing differences in skin color, gender and physical ability at a very early age. They connect certain attitudes and feelings with those differences by seeing how adults react to them.
As Eleanor Roosevelt once said, "Universal human rights begin in small places, close to home."
Talk about tolerance. Teaching tolerance is an everyday process. You cannot teach it in one single lesson. Be open and willing to talk about difference and understanding all the time. Make your children feel comfortable discussing tolerance and let them know that no subject is forbidden.
Support your children when they become victims of intolerance. Kids can be teased and bullied about their differences at school and even on the playground. Respect their problems and don't make their experience less than it was. Come up with constructive responses together.
Identify intolerance. Be sure to point out stereotypes on TV, movies, games or other media. Challenge it when it comes from family members or friends. Talk to your children about how they feel about these intolerance's.
Challenge intolerance from your children. If your child does or says something that is bias or stereotypical, confront your child. Ask them why they said this and show them how they would feel if they were in the other persons shoes.
Encourage your children to get involved. Be active and get your children interested in helping out local charities. Work together at a homeless shelter or soup kitchen. This will get your children interacting with the community and show them different kinds of diversity and to be empathetic to it.
Create ways for your child to interact with people from a different diversity or culture. Expand the definition of what your child thinks is "normal." Visit playgrounds where there is a variety of children, and encourage your children to spend time with elders.
Be honest about differences. If you tell your children that everyone is the same, this does not help your child, it hinders them. Everyone experiences the world differently and your child needs to know about these differences.
Most of all, model the behavior you would like to see! Everyone knows that our children look up to us and learn from us. They copy how we act and what we say. For our children to grow to be empathetic and tolerant, we need to show them how. If they do not see us modeling this behavior they will not do it either.
Always remember that actions speak louder than words.
In the world we live in, tolerance is not just a nice personality trait, it is an essential quality that we must all have.