Teaching Tolerance To Children
Teaching Tolerance To Children
With the newspapers spewing out news about terror attacks day after day, the whole world would seem like quite a scary place to children at large. The recent terrorist attack in Paris and the one before that closer home, in Mumbai, seem to send a message that even our own backyard is not safe enough.
Though the world today with its ubiquitous Internet access ensures our being a part of a global community, it is quite difficult and may be detrimental to their growth, to protect our children from the outside world.
Children who are stepping into their teens or a little into it are more susceptible since they are at an impressionable age. Caught between childhood and adolescence, they very often look to adults in their world to teach and model thoughts, behaviours and even feelings about the world at large.
It is difficult to make sense of the recent spate of violence occurring in many corners of the world. Feelings of helplessness and perplexity against invisible enemies can result in irrational reactions and extreme responses, sometimes hurting the audience comprising mostly of their friends. As young connected teenagers, they are easily impressed by the thoughts and opinions of others without much ability to decipher the truth from propaganda. The rage-filled comments of a political candidate commenting against a particular group in the society, carried by our 24×7 news channels, for example, may result in some of them forming a similar impression or a thought process. This usually manifests in the minds of children that may be played out in school through avoidance and ostracising.
As a part of the civilised society, it becomes a moral responsibility to teach our children and the ones that we come across in our daily lives, the value of tolerance instead of terror. Easier said than done, some would say, especially if you are one of the unfortunate ones who are at the receiving end so to say. It may seem easy to counter unrest resulting from attacks by generalising and blaming entire groups. As adults, we need to stop to think before any such action as to what such stances communicate, especially to our children.If our focus as a society and nation deviates from tolerance to terror and vengeance, the world would just turn from bad to worse and make it impossible for us to co-exist, leave aside progress. As parents, it is important to talk with our children about what they may be seeing and hearing.
Discussions that encourage their input provide an opportunity for us to understand how our children perceive and interpret the messages they are receiving about such issues. It helps to provide a forum for them to talk about their fears and offer their own solutions. When we listen, hear and respond, we validate our children. It is important to be mindful of our own words.
In an era when messages about human compassion can seem ambiguous, it is important to communicate clearly to our children. Ignorance can be an enemy to understanding and empathy. It is only through education and tolerance that we can teach our children the true meaning of humanity.
The future belongs to these children and it is up to us today to let them build it with increasing tolerance or with increasing fear.