If children are never taught or influenced to be intolerant, the chances are, they learn to accept people who are different from them. However, children who are exposed to prejudice and are never taught to be accepting of others certainly are at great risk of growing up to be intolerant. Here are 6 steps to teaching children how to be tolerant.
1. Explain to your children simply that we all live in the same world and it is important to try to get along with people regardless of how they look and what they believe. Remind them that they, too, are different from children in other countries, and maybe different from some children in their own neighborhood and school. Ask them to describe differences without judgment. Then ask them to describe where they are same. Perhaps in the heart we are all the same.
2. Ask your children how they want to be treated and whether it is fair to treat others differently than that.
3. Explain that rather than being fearful or critical of people who are different from us, we should be happy we are not all the same and that it is fun to learn about diversity of people around the world.
4. Have a conversation with your children about not blaming all people of a particular nation, ethnic group, religion, etc. for the cruel acts of a few from the same group.
5. Talk to older children and teens about compassion – caring about others and what they may be feeling and going through.
6. Encourage your children not to be afraid of friendships with children who, although they may look, speak or dress differently, seem to be nice and respectful of others.