Last week, my daughter's class teacher asked her to prepare a message on tolerance for the school magazine. I was not surprised as ‘tolerance' is the buzzword for Indian media of late. But, tolerance is not simply what is projected in media. It also encompasses color, gender, opinions, size, shape, mental and physical health, social status etc.
Kids and Tolerance
Today, the world is shrinking fast. Even a residential apartment is no less than a mini cosmopolitan. There is an easy access to digital and electronic media. On top of all this, our kids are super vigilant and smart. They notice everything minutely. But still their minds are immature. They are like wet clay. The impressions we create today would remain etched in their minds forever. So, they should witness good examples and positive influences. After all, the perceptions they form today would decide the type of citizens they would become tomorrow.
Sharing few tips on how to make your child tolerant.
1) Let Tolerance begins at home
In a family, there are different members. All have different attitudes, temperaments, likes and dislikes. We should accept them as they are. There is every possibility of a difference of opinions. But we should respect them and be tolerant of them. We should make it a point not to discuss our differences in front of our kids. Rather, we must try to make the situation as normal as possible. It's very important to explain a child the importance of family and its bonding.
Certain family members, especially grandparents, might suffer from certain age-related ailments like dementia. It's our duty to be role models for our kids in taking care of the elders. Our behavior towards them would define our child's behavior because they replicate what they see. Our words and actions, both, would demonstrate empathy and tolerance.
2) Explain them the Importance of Difference
Explain to your child how important it is to be different. It is the difference which has given us uniqueness. The best example of it is our own face. God has created each one with a unique face, making it our first identity. Even if the two faces are similar, they would have certain differences in behavior or so. Siblings do vary greatly in looks and habits. Thus, the difference is natural and omnipresent.
3) Boost child's Self-Esteem
A confident child is more likely to accept others as who and how they are because she/he does not feel threatened by the difference of others. Instill optimism in your child. A confident and optimistic child is more ready to explore the opposing views.
Whenever you get an opportunity, travel with your child within or outside the country. They would not only notice the differences but can experience them too. It would definitely broaden their views and help accept differences.
5) Improve your child's General Knowledge
General Knowledge is the subject which deals with all spheres of education in the most informal way. Introduce your child to this fantastic subject. They can learn about different states, countries, languages, attires, festivals, ways of living and many more things. Knowledge helps in bridging the gap and thus increasing acceptance.
6) Reach out to diverse population
Every company has a program to reach out to underprivileged and differently-abled kids. Register for those programs and take your child with you. If possible, celebrate your child's birthday in any of SOS Children's Village. They would learn to respect them as well as accept them.
7) Connect to the root
Most of us are away from our land of origin for one reason or the other. But we should make every effort to connect our kids to their roots. Try to visit your ancestral home at least once a year. Let them experience the feeling of belonging there. Share stories about their forefathers: their struggles, their achievements. Teach them your mother tongue. Research also proves that the child who knows well about his lineage is more confident, grounded and humble. Thus, s/he would be more open to accepting others as they are.
8) Culinary Delight
Your child might like the local dishes more than your traditional ones. It is perfectly fine. I know that we all are very much obsessed with our traditional cuisines. But we should not deprive our kids of what they like. So, learn the recipes and satisfy your kid's appetite. It is one of the interesting ways to teach them tolerance.
9) TV Shows
There are numerous TV shows which deal with travel and tourism. They not only show different places but also their cultures, culinary expertise, food habits, customs and all in between, thus making it a powerful way of inducing tolerance.
10) Answer your child's queries
Your child may notice certain differences and ask hard questions. Be sure to answer them as fairly as possible. If you do not know the answer, tell them honestly rather than giving wrong or biased information. Avoid calling names or making fun of others.
India is a land of festivals. Every festival has its own flavor. You should honor your traditions but at the same time, make your child learn about others. Whether it's Holi, Diwali or Onam celebrations in our society, I encourage my daughter to participate actively. Celebrating festivals help the kids understand different cultures in a better way and thus foster tolerance in them.
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The above steps are not exhaustive. I am sure there can be many other ways. The crux is to make your child aware of the existing differences around. The more aware they are, the better would be their mental preparation to accept them. Also, make them understand that it is not mandatory to adopt and agree to all the differences they come across but they should have respect for them who hold those values.
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