Teaching Tolerance

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Talk to your child about your family heritage to encourage self-knowledge and a positive self-concept. Widen your circle of friends and acquaintances to include people from different backgrounds, cultures and experiences.

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Donate Now. For example, your child might direct playmates in what should happen next. By kindergarten, children progress to collaborative play, which includes planning, negotiation, and cooperation. As play becomes more sophisticated, it offers more opportunities for kind and compassionate interactions. Observing Your Child's Play Through their play, children are constantly telling us how they see themselves in relation to others.

You can gauge your child's understanding of kindness, compassion, and tolerance by observing how he plays alone and in groups, and by asking questions, such as, "Why do you think Henry's feelings were hurt when you called him that name? During playdates or trips to the park, observe her interactions with other children.

Listen carefully to what she says, and try to appreciate her creativity as she uses her imagination, especially when trying out different roles. When children explore the roles of adults in their community, they reveal their beliefs about their culture and their expectations for adulthood. For example, after an hour-long visit with a group of preschoolers, I told them it was time for me to leave. Through their discussion, these children were trying to help one another understand all the different things a man can be. Even in this simple exchange, they show concern for one another by trying to clarify what's true and what isn't.

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Accepting what your child says is an obvious but often overlooked way to teach acceptance. For example, during a sleepover, Jenny and Sam wanted a snack. Jenny's mom offered celery and peanut butter — "Jenny's favorite. In this exchange, Jenny's mom showed her acceptance of Sam, even though Sam disliked something that Jenny's family enjoys.

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It's not always easy to know how to respond to what children say or ask. Children cope with thorny questions about gender roles, racial differences, and identity through play, particularly when they are between 4 and 5 years old. Play is a safe way for children to explore their fears, ideas, and worldview.

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If you listen, you might hear some surprising debates arise: "Boys can't play with the baby doll! You can ask your child why he thinks his statement is true and use it as a basis for further discussion. Encouraging Tolerance and Empathy You can encourage your child to be kind and gentle and to make the concepts of diversity and acceptance more "real" and meaningful in many ways.


As a parent, you are your child's conduit to the world, so the way you interact with others is important. But a child also needs to understand her place in your family and something about her own culture and background.

Then she can relate to others in her neighborhood, classroom, town, and eventually in the world. Using what your child already knows and loves — books, music, blocks, dolls, dress-up clothes, or other toys — is the easiest, most natural way to expand your child's knowledge about her own family culture, as well as those that are different from hers.

Family Resource Center of Central Oregon : Resources : Parenting Tips : Teaching Tolerance

Just as you can learn a lot from watching your child play, she learns a great deal from observing the adults in her life. You are her most powerful influence. By teaching her about other people and places, and by reinforcing kindness, tolerance, and compassion, you give her the skills to live peacefully and comfortably in a diverse world.