By Jordan Beach, MSW, Courier & Press, December 27, 2016 –
Now, more than ever, we live in a world where global interaction is normal, and even expected, in many fields of work. This trend will continue to grow, so it is important to raise children to be accepting and tolerant of cultures and norms different than their own.
Children are taught about other cultures in school, but as far as molding a child into a tolerant human being, most of the responsibility falls on the parents or caregivers.
The primary way for a parent to teach this is by example. Your children are going to model your behavior. If you show respect for people of all races, genders and religions, your child will learn to do that too.
It is very difficult to teach your child to respect others if you are not doing it yourself. The way you speak to (and about) a person from another culture does not go unnoticed by your child. Make sure you always treat others with respect and dignity so your children learn to do the same.
Don’t be afraid to talk about differences with your children. At times it seems as though people get embarrassed when their children point out different physical characteristics, races or ethnicities. The truth is, there are a lot of races, cultures and ethnicities in the world. Your child is simply learning through observation and pointing this out.
It is a positive thing to have conversations with your child about these differences and encourage them to be accepting of everyone — no matter what they look like. Diversity makes our world a great place, and introducing this to your child will help them become a better-rounded individual.
Helping your child build their own confidence is also a tremendous help. People who are comfortable in their own skin and confident about their own lives are more likely to be tolerant of the lives others choose to live.
This is true of children too. If you celebrate your child’s uniqueness and happiness, they will radiate joy to those around them. They will be less consumed with the differences of others because they are comfortable being themselves.
Allow your child to have experiences in diverse settings. Sign them up for camps or clubs that will support your goal of raising a tolerant child. When possible, travel together. Seeing different ways people live will help your child be more aware that everyone’s lives don’t look like theirs.
Children grow up so fast. As parents, it is our job to prepare them for their futures to the best of our abilities. Raising your child to be tolerant of others is a huge step in raising a successful child.
Besides preparing them for success in an ever-changing global economy, having this strength will allow your child to build positive relationships throughout life.