teach our children to be truly tolerant

Can We Teach Our Children to Be Truly Tolerant?

November 16 is the International Day for Tolerance. While many adults would say that they are open and tolerant, our news reports and daily interactions often say the opposite. How often do you consider the validity of a different perspective than your own? On this International Day for Tolerance, let’s consider our own willingness to hear a different perspective, and let’s think about how we can teach our children to be truly tolerant too.


Tolerance is a hot word in our world, but what does it look like for regular people in our everyday lives? Here are 3 ways to show tolerance and to teach our children to be truly tolerant.


Listening for understanding


Good listening is something we all appreciate. When someone really listens to you, taking what you say seriously, it means a lot. So let’s consider how we listen to other people or other perspectives. Do we listen in order to understand? How well do we really listen to other people? 


So often, we listen for something to argue with or for a way we can answer the issue. Next time you’re listening to someone, try to shut down your mental responses and to just really listen.


This isn’t to say that we can’t ask questions or discuss an issue, but let’s listen completely first. Instead of being someone who can prove a point, let’s be someone who builds up others with our listening. Our kids will notice this, and this is a great way to teach our children to be truly tolerant.


This kind of listening takes practice, so it’s a good time to learn the sign for practice.


Allowing someone to disagree with you


The next step beyond just listening to someone is to allow room for disagreement. Do you have friends who disagree with you in some way? It’s so good for us to have relationships with people who aren’t just like us and who don’t agree with us in every way. Kids are so much better than adults in this area, especially when they are younger. 


So let’s allow other people to disagree with us. After a discussion, let’s agree to disagree, preserve the relationship, and appreciate each other’s perspectives. This is a great thing to treat siblings in your own home. So many times, I have been the mediator who assigns value to each sibling’s experience of a situation. It’s totally OK to see things from different views. Let’s allow this in our own interactions. And let’s use this to teach our kids to be truly tolerant.


Learning about other cultures on purpose


We sometimes are forced to learn about other cultures for work or school or even for traveling. But it’s so valuable for our kids to learn about other cultures just because. My kids really enjoy reading, and they spent a summer reading about other cultures. We covered a different part or the world each week, and it broadened their perspectives so much.

You can ask your librarian to direct you to age-appropriate fictional books for specific areas of the world. Or, if your family isn’t into books, you could find other ways to learn about other cultures. You could look for shows to watch or even events to attend. 


At My Signing Time, we emphasize every kid’s value in this world. That’s our push for teaching kids to be truly tolerant, and we hope you’ll take a minute to check out what we have to offer your family. There are several videos in our Watch Free section, and you can check out the rest of our educational content with a 14-day free trial (yup, 2 entire weeks!). Try it out right here

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