Main Page
This Issue
Next Article
Previous Article

2000 Jordan Institute
for Families


Vol. 4, No. 1
February 1999

Teaching 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