2000 Jordan Institute
4, No. 1
Parents to Teach Tolerance
How can we foster cultural competence in children? The key to building
children's tolerance of difference is education. Encourage parents to:
Model Positive Behavior
- Never use or condone racist humor or other remarks--children cannot
always distinguish between a sarcastic remard and true feelings. Also,
racially-based humor often reflects untrue stereotypes, or underlying
feelings of hostility.
- Ask parents to be aware of the language they use to describe people.
Do they talk about a person's physical characteristics, or do they focus
on personality traits and behavior?
Talk to Kids About Tolerance
- Encourage parents to talk to their children about serious issues such
as tolerance, diversity, and acceptance.
- Suggest that they ask their children to recall times when they felt
"outside" or isolated from their friends, and then link those
feelings to the feelings of kids they know who might not "fit in".
Get Involved at School
- Parents should become advocates for an inclusive curriculum, i.e.,
one that reflects characteristics of many different cultures.
- Encourage parents to speak to their children's class about their experiences
with discrimination. This may help break the isolation of children experiencing
discrimination themselves, and allow kids to discuss discrimination
when it is not emotional (i.e., as it would be after a fight).
Hodges, V. (1998). Personal communication. Chapel Hill,
NC: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
© 1999 Jordan
Institute for Families