Diversity in Children as an Essential Step toward Tolerance

Today, children grow up in a culturally diverse environment. Naturally, children growing up in diverse environment develop diverse skills and abilities, and traits of character. At the same time, diversity in children is inevitable because they are raised up in different families with different cultural background, familial traditions and specific models of behavior of parents. On the other hand, in the course of socialization, children interact with each other and their diversity helps them to develop tolerance to each other because, from the early childhood, they learn that they are different and take the diversity for granted. Therefore, diversity breeds tolerance in children, when parents and educators provide them with positive models of behavior.

First of all, children grow up in culturally diverse environment that helps them to take diversity for granted and parents help them in this regard. Parents of children and their peers may have diverse cultural traditions, whereas parents provide children with specific models of behavior which are unique for each family. During first years of life, children learn basic models of behavior from their parents, who are the most meaningful people in their life.

According to Robbins, when they start socializing and interact with their peers they extrapolate their models of behavior on their relationships with peers (246). As a result, children have diverse models of behavior. Moreover, when children grow up in minority communities they are vulnerable to the impact of the communities’ culture. As a result, when they interact with children raised up in the mainstream cultural environment, they bring in diversity in their relationships because they have different values, norms and standards of behavior. In such a way, diversity contributes to the development of tolerance, when children with a different cultural background develop friendly relationships in the course of communication and interaction on the daily basis.

Obviously, diversity in children has a number of advantages. Firstly, the diversity preserves cultural identity of each child. Secondly, children develop their own model of behavior grounded on norms and standards of behavior, cultural traditions, models of behavior they learn from their parents and social environment. Thus, Russell stresses that diversity allows children to be unique individuals (183). Finally, the major advantage of diversity in children is its power to develop tolerance in children because, when they interact with other children in the diverse environment, they take diversity for granted. Therefore, diversity becomes a norm for children and they grew up being tolerant to people who are different from them.

On the other hand, diversity may have certain disadvantages, such as the oppression of minority children by children representing the dominant group. For instance, diversity, in its extreme forms, can provoke conflicts and tension in relationships between children. When children have a different set of values and if they are unable to control their actions yet, they are inclined to come into clashes with each other. In addition, the diversity can lead to the exclusion or marginalization of children, who represent minorities. For instance, in the modern health care system, minority children are often underserved and Friedman points out that health care professionals, who work with children and their families, should be educated to deliver culturally effective care, regardless of racial or ethnic origin of children (21).

Thus, diversity in children is natural because all the children cannot be identical twins raised up in the identical environment. The diversity is beneficial for children because children learn how to interact with children who are different and who have different beliefs, norms, and values. On the other hand, diversity can provoke conflicts, especially when children interact in groups dominated by one culture only. In this respect, it is extremely important to help children to develop tolerance and the diversity is very helpful because it shows children that being different does not mean being worse than others. At this point, adults should just help children to use the full potential of the diversity.

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