The Character Construction Site:
January

Value:  ACCEPTANCE OF DIVERSITY

Introduction
Moral behaviors are caught as well as taught - that’s why we must both practice what we preach and preach what we practice.

Definition of Acceptance of Diversity
Respecting the dignity and rights of all persons, even those whose beliefs and behaviors differ from our own. 

An appreciation of the richness of human diversity, of the many positive qualities and contributions of people from all backgrounds, races, religions, countries, and cultures.

Guidelines

  • Model and nurture tolerance. 
  • Instill an appreciation for diversity.
  • Counter stereotypes and never tolerate prejudice.

Monitor or at least discuss the prejudice and stereotypes on television, in video games, music lyrics, and Internet sites. 

Encourage your child to participate in social and community activities that promote cross-cultural programs, diversity, resistance to hate groups, and tolerance.

Family Activities

Memorization
Diversity is the one true thing we all have in common. Celebrate it every day. -Anonymous

Talking About Tolerance with Kids
Here are some questions to help kids think about the value of being tolerant and respectful of all people’s beliefs and differences.

  • What is tolerance?  Do you think people are born tolerant, or do they become tolerant?  How do you know if someone is tolerant?
  • What kinds of things would an intolerant person do?  (Possible behaviors include: making fun of people, jumping to conclusions, laughing at someone’s disability, gossiping, name-calling, making jokes about someone’s differences.)
  • Why do you think some people make fun of others who look or act differently?  Is it right?  Why?
  • Suppose a new student comes to school who is of a different ethnic group than your friends.  You want to get to know him better.  The problem is, your friends don’t want to include him because he looks and acts differently.  What will you do?  What should you do?

Three Ways to Develop a Sense of Personal Identity
Before a child can appreciate and tolerate others, he has to appreciate and himself.

  1. Play the “Who Am I?” Game - Gather your family and discuss how each person has special qualities that make him or her unique.  This game will help you learn to recognize these qualities in yourself and others.  Each person takes turns saying one true and positive statement a\bout herself, starting with “I am …”.  Family members may help by supplying information if someone is stuck.  Go for several rounds.
  2. Make an Identity Place Mat - Help your child cover a 12” x 18” paper with words or pictures that define her unique qualities and characteristics.  Cover it with clear contact paper. 
  3. Create a People Recipe - Many personal characteristics combine to make each person unique.  Ask your child, “What are you made of?” Write the answers down on a recipe card.  Ingredients should include physical characteristics, personality traits, ethnic background, and even religious beliefs.  Make a card for each family member and bind the cards together with a metal ring to make a “Family Cookbook”.
     
    • Recipe for Kalin:  2 teaspoons of Irish. 1 teaspoon of Catholic. Stir in huge blue eyes and a dash of smiles. Sprinkle with freckles, add a few hugs. 1 tablespoon of niceness and a pinch of spunkiness. Mix the niceness, then gently add a dash of fun.  Bake well in the love and care of the Galvin family.  And there you have the recipe of Kalin, a fabulous, wonderful kid!

Six Ways to Develop Your Child’s Pride in His Culture
Developing a sense of self and pride in one’s culture can help your child begin  To appreciate just how much the world is a melting pot of different customs and ideas.

  1. Use family photo albums.
  2. Create an ancestry map.
  3. Keep a family journal to keep track of family memories, photographs, recipes, and a brief history of your family’s ancestry.
  4. Create a family recipe book.  Ask each relative to submit a favorite recipe and tell why it is special. 
  5. Provide children’s literature representing your heritage.
  6. Hang a flag of your country of origin

Four Ways to Develop Positive Attitudes About Diversity
To help your child celebrate diversity:

  1. Celebrate differences Early On - Make a collage together of magazine pictures that feature all different kinds of people and depicting differences in gender, age, race, culture, backgrounds, physical appearance, and even moods.
  2. Expose Your Child to Diversity - Ignorance or lack of information is one of the most common reasons children develop stereotypes.  To feel uncomfortable with people who are different from us is natural.  By exposing our children to diversity when they are young and talking to them about the differences helps them be more accepting of others. 
  3. Give Straightforward, Simple Answers to Questions About Differences
  4. Help Your Child Look for Similarities - Encourage your child to look for what he has in common with others instead of how he is different.

Alike and Different
Have family members form pairs.  Tell each pair to think of five ways they are alike and five ways they are different.  Answers can be written or drawn.  Each team will share their results with the larger group.  From then on, any time your child points out how she is different from someone, you might say, “Yes, there are lots of ways you are different from other people.  Now let’s try to think of ways you are the same.”

These comments and exercises were excerpted and adapted with the author’s permission from Building Moral Intelligence by Michele Borba, Ed.D., Jossey-Bass, 2001. For more information visit, www.moralintelligence.org. This is an excellent book that covers seven essential virtues.  Dr. Borba was the very popular LGUSD Parent Ed Council speaker for 2001.

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