When your children are young they do not approach differences in the same way. They acknowledge that some one has a different skin color or is handicapped and continue on with the relationship. So where do they lose this ability? How do we teach tolerance?
I have talked to many students and they say “Why should I tolerate…..my parents don’t” . There is a major clue on where our children learn to not tolerate others. Now I’m not talking about tolerating an abuser in any way or form. They should never be tolerated!!! It is by our own actions, attitudes, and behaviors that children get the first clues on how to treat others. Sometimes a child learns intolerance from others and we are stuck with the problem. But curing it can be easy if caught at an early age.
Part of being intolerant of others is not understanding the struggles that the other person faces. Do you come in contact with people who are handicapped in some form? A blind person may scare your child because they do not know why that person moves or acts in certain ways. To give the child an understanding of the problems the person faces blindfold them for an hour or so. Make it a game and see how they react. After the practice sit down and talk to them about how they felt and what hurdles they found. An honest and open discussion will relieve there fears and foster understanding.
The same holds true for other differences. A person who is missing an arm has a hard time doing some things and has to learn different ways to cope with everyday occurrences. Which arm does your child use the most? Gently tie that arm to their side and have them try to deal with a day of non-use. I would not suggest that you do this if you are going to go out in public as others may decide that you are being abusive.
As we go through our everyday life we make a large difference in our children’s ability to understand others by our actions. When our children are in a home school environment they do not come into contact with a tremendous amount of people so it is doubly important to show them how to react. Only through church or their other social encounters do they get a view of the various struggles others face. Probably the most important lesson, we as parents, must learn is that it is our actions, attitudes, and behaviors that teach our children the most in how to treat others. We will help them to be stronger people by teaching them to stop and understand others before making decisions on how to act towards that person.