Young children notice differences among the people that they meet. Preschoolers often do not have preconceived notions and prejudices about these differences, but may have questions about those of different races, religions, abilities or sexual orientation. It is important to teach preschoolers about tolerance while they are still young. This will help them relate to the people that they will live among throughout their lives.
Lead by example. Show tolerance when dealing with others, and treat everyone you meet with respect. Be aware of any prejudices that you may have, and work on not passing those onto your preschooler. Avoid telling jokes about someone’s race, religion, ability or sexual orientation.
Read books together that promote tolerance. Look for books about different types of families, different cultures and people with disabilities. See the Resources section for some books on these topics.
Be willing to answer your preschooler’s questions. Remember that children do not mean to be rude when they point out differences in people. Remind them not to ask questions about someone’s appearance or family situation loudly or in public, and that you would be happy to answer any questions in private.
Make an effort to expose your children to different cultures and groups. Visit ethnic stores and restaurants, and talk about the foods that people in other cultures eat. Consider visiting a place of worship that is different than the one you normally attend. Get to know people from other walks of life. Show your child that while people may be different on the outside, they are all worthy of tolerance.
Speak up when you see intolerance, either from your child or from someone else. If your child hears a stereotype, for example, explain why it is inaccurate and unkind. Discourage others from promoting stereotypes in your child’s presence.