With election season here, it’s hard to miss the onslaught of media coverage and chatter about political issues and candidates. While this is an important time for our country, it can be a bit overwhelming for parents and even children.
According to KidsHealth.org, if you think your child is probably not interested in these issues, think again. More than 2,000 kids and teens throughout the United States were asked what they thought about recent presidential elections and how they might affect them. A whopping 75 percent of kids and 79 percent of teens answered “yes” when asked whether they thought that the outcome of an election would change their lives.
Mery Taylor, a CHOC Children’s pediatric psychologist, says it’s important to talk openly about the election with your kids in an age-appropriate way.
“Ask your kids what’s important to them,” says Dr. Taylor. “Above all, it’s important to be loving and reassuring.”
Dr. Taylor offers the following tips when talking about politics:
- Acknowledge your children’s feelings. Ask what they feel and why. Listen closely and try to connect with your child’s emotions before problem solving. If they have concerns or fears about a particular issue or how it may affect your family, reassure them that they are safe and that your family will work out any issue together.
- Keep the conversation light and positive. Focus on the positive aspects of a candidate or an issue. Take this opportunity to explain to your kids how to voice their opinions with respect, even when he/she doesn’t agree with someone else. Talk about what you believe and why in a respectful way, too.
- Talk about the election process. Talk to your kids about the importance of voting and how the process works. Explain to them that everyone has a voice. While they may not be able to vote, encourage your kids to get involved at school or in the community, with issues that are important to them, such as the environment or the economy, for example. Let them know their contributions can make a big difference.