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Alyson Schafer Advice: How To Raise Tolerant Kids

Parenting expert Alyson Schafer on how to teach kids to be accepting of all people.

June is Pride Month. Gay pride parades are taking place in almost every town and rainbow banners can be seen everywhere! What better time to challenge ourselves as parents to ensure we help foster positive attitude in our children.

We want to raise children who are not only accepting of all sexual orientations, but who are openhearted to all humankind, regardless of race, religion, physical and mental abilities, age, gender and so forth.

So how does a parent teach such concepts?

1. Modelling

How is your open-mindedness? Are you able to embrace all people? It is easy to love and accept those we are like, but what of those we don’t understand or have nothing in common? THAT is where our own work begins.

2. Walk the talk

Take a minute to examine yourself. You may proclaim you are accepting, but do you walk the talk? Do your mouth and feet tell the same story? If you claim you are not sexist, but then you crack a sexist joke, believe me, your children learn more from what you do.

3. Exposure

The best way for children to understand human differences is to develop relationships with people from all walks of life. Children may be taken aback when they first meet someone who has Down syndrome, is in a wheelchair or wears a hijab, but once they spend time to develop a friendship, they realize they have more in common than they do in differences. Help increase exposure to a variety of people through your children’s activities, sports, clubs, travels, movies and books.

4. Social action

Walk in a gay pride parade, add a rainbow to your profile picture, raise money for women’s issues and so on. The more outspoken you are about your own personal values of the respect and dignity of ALL people, the more your children are likely to adopt your values, too.

5. Inspire, don’t preach

Yes, you should live your values big, but if you get too preachy and start cramming your ideology down your children’s throats, the more likely they are to reject your values. Instead, be inspirational. Kids will be like bees to honey if you keep it positive and engaging.


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