5 ways to teach tolerance and understanding to your kids

teach tolerance and understanding

*This is a guest post

Around the time of Brexit and just before Trump, I realised that I had a responsibility to do whatever I could to counter the growing intolerance and fear around me. You see I believe that many small acts of kindness can add up to a powerful movement and can create much needed positive change.

It’s only a small thing, but I set about writing a unique interfaith children’s book, which introduces young people and their families to the shared custom of head covering.  My aim is for this book to play a part in helping young people to learn acceptance and become fearless and knowledgeable about the people beneath the head coverings.

Lead by example

I don’t know about you, but my little one is like my shadow and virtually always does as he sees. The first and most important tip for teaching tolerance and acceptance is to lead by example. If we, as parents are understanding and loving, so too will our children be and they will continue to be as they grow.

Introduce diversity

Early encounters with different kinds of people, customs and traditions whether in life generally or in museums, books and films, will help children to develop a familiarity and acceptance of differences. The more diversity they experience in their day-to-day lives the better.

Get the answers

As parents we have a tough job to do. We need to be well versed and armed with answers to tough questions from our little ones. Get informed! Do your research and know what you’re talking about. Our children take our word as gospel so we need to be sure our information is accurate and objective.

Talk the talk

Being honest, communicating well and encouraging an early dialogue with our children is key to helping them find answers they understand and we can feel confident about. Let them speak openly and help them find the right words and context.


Our little ones need to know that although from where they are sitting, someone else might seem different to them, they themselves might be thought of as different to someone else too. Teaching our kids that really, at the end of the day, we are all the same is an important message. We are all just people, no matter how different we look, or sound or act. As human beings we share a huge amount in common and all any of us really want is to love and be loved.

I’m certain there are a million other ways that you can ensure that you raise children who are kind, sensitive, and understanding of others. Do whatever you do to raise future adults who because of your teaching and leading by example are aware of all the little things that make us different and special, and all the big things that connect us and make us equal as human beings.

The truth is that if you’re reading this article and nodding you’re probably already doing most of the things on this list without even thinking about it and that’s awesome! Now take a moment to think about what you can do a little more consciously. What little wonderful thing you can do to put positivity out into the world? Think about it. I promise you, it’s a mutually beneficial endeavor.

5 ways to teach tolerance and understanding to your kids

By Medeia Cohan, Author of Hats of Faith (out September 2017), Twitter @HatsofFaith, Instagram @HatsofFaith.



  1. I definitely agree with you. From an early age, we’ve always drummed it into T (and still do), the importance of kindness to everyone. How “exclusivity” is not a good thing. And of course, as when explaining to kids, we have to do it in a way that they’ll understand. Last year, a new girl came into her class. T’s group is very small, and they’ve known each other since playschool. Therefore the group is very close and very tight. I feel so much for that new girl, even though we keep reminding T to always include the new girl even though, as she explains, the girl doesn’t want to play. T recently invited her to go to her birthday party. I took a group shot and as I did, T and her friends all huddled together. It was only when I uploaded the photo on my computer did I notice that while it was a very lovely photo of T and her group, F, the new one, was clearly not included in the group hug 🙁 No one intentionally excluded her, it just happened 🙁

  2. Great advice. The best thing we do for the world is to teach our children that we are all the same, and to treat people as you would be done by. If everyone stuck to those two tenets, the world would be a much better place.

  3. I think it is so important to talk to your kids, show them good role modelling and examples of tolerance on a daily basis. This is something I feel really strongly about especially as the world is starting to feel more and more intolerant which is scary

    Laura x

  4. This is such an important topic but easy to gloss over and deal with “tomorrow”. It’s important to be proactive to teach kids this. If you never say anything, they will never learn.

  5. The importance of being kind to one another and leading by example can not be emphasized enough. No one is born hating another, they learn it from people around them.

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