We live in a world where the boundaries and borders are slowly shrinking and cultures all around are getting closer thanks to advancement in technology. More than ever before, we are now witnessing a confluence of myriad cultures. Today’s youth are growing up in a multicultural landscape, and the blurred boundaries make it necessary to prepare them for a world of diversities. This world needs tolerance — more love for one and all. Only when cultures look at each other as friends and as compatriots, can they attain collective prosperity.
As adults — whether you are a mom, dad, aunt, uncle, or a teacher — it’s a moral duty to come forward and make efforts to help children understand what tolerance stands for and how they can use it in their lives to build and maintain healthy relationships. After all, it’s a critical life skill for survival. Parents should instill in their children a natural sense of being proud of one’s own culture and at the same time be respectful of other cultures and traditions.
For the realization of this great cause, the United Nations (UN) International Day For Tolerance is observed each year on the 16th of November to educate and enlighten people about the joys of comradeship and love for all. We need to raise responsible kids, those who can rise above petty issues and hate.
So, without further ado, let’s discuss some important ways in which you can shape children to become more tolerant and liberal in their thoughts and actions:
1. Model Empathy
The first step to raising tolerant kids is to practice what you preach. If you want your kids to respect and treat everyone equally, you’ll need to model empathy responsibly. Your kids will observe and pick up these habits from you (1). If you are judgmental and intolerant, your kids mirror the same attitude. So, set clear examples of moral behavior; and your kids are likely to emulate those. Reflect on how you behave with your child and others. Educate yourself and rectify your mistakes. We are all learning and unlearning — there’s no shame in starting all over again.
2. Shun Stereotypes And Biases
We live in a world where everyone has opinions, regardless of whether they are logical or reasonable. This gives rise to stereotypes — one where we put down others to assert our superiority (2). For example, whether or not women are a weak gender has no scientific evidence. It’s mean and ridiculous. But when you emphasize and repeatedly assert such stereotypes, kids subconsciously start believing in them too. Take a stand and speak strongly against any bias you witness, instead of brushing them under the carpet thinking your child won’t understand. Children learn through observation. They will treat others with respect when they can discern unfair treatment. And, this learning begins at home!
3. Educate Them About Coexistence
Tell your kid that just like our fingers are different, yet they coexist and help us perform varied tasks; similarly, we may look and think differently, yet love each other, preserve our unity, and live with dignity. Your child may like the color blue, and you love black, but you still let them choose their favorite without imposing your choice on them. Does that difference impact your feelings towards them? Do you love them any less? Certainly not. In the same way, show/explain to your child that pluralities do not have to divide us; we can still exist with patience, empathy, and tolerance.
4. Be Curious And Honor Other Cultures
To promote inclusivity in your child, enable them to interact with people of different cultures. The greater the exposure and learning, the higher the chances of acceptance and adaptation. Sign them up for activities where they could meet those who are “different” from them.
Do encourage them to learn a new language or learn facts about various cultures around the world. Attend cultural events to normalize and promote love for everyone, no matter how different they are. Since the media is a significant source of learning for kids, you should also regulate what they read, watch, and listen to. Ensure they are exposed to healthy digital content that shapes strong morale and enlightens them about the value of kindness and empathy towards all.
5. Cultivate A Sense Of Good Self-Esteem
Give a boost to your child’s self-esteem to make them feel confident about themselves. It will drastically improve their emotional wellbeing, and therefore, their relationship with themselves and others. Children with good self-esteem are less likely to feel threatened or inferior to their peers. They are more accepting of strengths, weaknesses, or limitations of their own and others. This allows them to be kind, forgiving, and open-minded to develop healthy relationships with everyone.
6. Take The Time To Learn About Other Cultures
We grow up surrounded by our own customs and traditions, and so don’t have to put too much effort in learning them. However, to know about another culture we have to dedicate time and effort. Be it a new language or cuisines from another culture, we have to make time in learning them the right way. Let your kids plan out enough time so that they are able to absorb all they can from the culture they are interested in.
We are one, and that’s something your kids need to learn from an early age. To make this world a better place, let them realize that diversity makes it beautiful and vibrant. Make a joint effort to create a world where there is peace and happiness, where respect prevails for all, regardless of our religious or political affiliations, gender, race, color, shape, size, or other differences. Give them fine examples of how intolerance can create an imbalance in society and promote discord and chaos. Nudge them to think how meanness can breed unhappiness around, which is detrimental to their happiness and others. What steps have you taken to teach tolerance to your kids? Do share your views with us in the comments below!
- Copycat behavior in children is universal and may help promote human culture