Teaching your child tolerance.

Tania - posted on 09/29/2011 ( 2 moms have responded )

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This has been something on my mind lately. I did not know the young man who recently committed suicide; however his story touched me deeply.



I watched a video just now of his parents talking to Ann Curry on the Today show and what they were talking about broke my heart. The horrible things the bullies wrote on his Facebook wall....the heckling they did after he died. How can we as parents defeat this disgusting behaviour?



We hear about schools implementing bullying policies...not really enforcing them in my opinion, but what are we as parents doing to teach our kids that this type of behaviour is wrong.



Where are these kids’ parents....if I ever found out that my child was bullying other kids in such a horrible way I, in all honesty, don't know where I would begin with the discipline.



I think I would ultimately start with making him understand the people he's bullying. Doing volunteer work for different organization and making him see that these people have families and friends who love them.



Maybe this doesn’t really make sense.... I just think that we need to recognize not only if our child is being bullied but also if our child id the one doing the bulling.



We need to teach them that even if you don’t agree with someone’s lifestyle you still need to accept them for who they are. They need to know that even though someone looks different or acts differently they still need understanding and respect.

2 Comments

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Becky - posted on 09/29/2011

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I agree, I think a lot of it has to do with how a child is parented. A child who is parented empathetically and sensitively is more likely to grow up to be empathic and sensitive. A child who is parented by authoritarian parents is, IMO, more likely to be a bully. I'm sure there are exceptions, but overall, children learn to be what they see their parents being. If their parents bully them, they will bully others.

I have noticed this with my oldest son and it is something I am trying to address, not only with him, but with my husband. My husband has a bad habit of talking quite disrespectfully about people. Not to their faces, but when he discusses people at home. For instance, he'll call other drivers on the road idiots, call people at work dickheads... you get the picture. And he does all this in front of the boys. And now our 3 year old is starting to talk quite disrespectfully to people. I imagine some of that is just being 3 and still learning social skills, but I think some of it is that he thinks it's okay because his dad talks about people that way. It's very hard for me to combat it and teach him not to call other people names when he hears his dad doing it regularly!

I think that exposing your child to all types of people when they are young is a great way to teach them tolerance as well. Volunteer with people who are less fortunate, have friends of different races, religions, socio-economic statuses. Help them to see that everyone is human and has the same basic needs and feelings, regardless of what we look like, how we live, or what we believe. And I think watching your own language around personal appearance is important too. If you criticise your own appearance "Oh, I'm so fat!" or that of others, then your child is going to start to believe that certain physical features make a person inferior and that it's okay to pick on people based on those features.

Bottom line, I think what our children see us as their parents doing is a HUGE influence in how they will treat others as they get older.

Krista - posted on 09/29/2011

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I agree completely, Tania. It begins at home. Schools can have all of the anti-bullying programs in the world, but if the parents aren't teaching their kids empathy and kindness right from the get-go, then it's like trying to empty the ocean with a teaspoon.

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