During this political season, I thought I would touch on an issue we may not think very much about. How do children interpret and understand all the political rhetoric they are hearing? Yes, they hear it. If they are tuned into social media at all, and I bet they are, they are very aware of what is going on with this election. In fact, they may know things before you do. However, they might not necessarily be able to tell fact from fiction and the internet contains a lot of the latter. If you have a school-age child, it might be worth taking a few minutes to get their viewpoints, find out what they already know, and find out what questions they may have. When asked if they thought the outcome of the election could change their lives, a whopping 75% of elementary school children answered, “Yes!” I researched some tips from experts on the topic of steering our children through this political season unscathed.
For elementary school kids, you can seek out some age appropriate resources for them in the form of websites, smart phone apps, and books. It is important for your child to be informed and involved, and you can help them be media-savvy with kid-friendly sources such as HTE Kids News, Time for Kids, and Scholastic Kids Press Corps. These are all great websites which present the news in a fashion geared toward your child. It will still be helpful for you to help them interpret what they are reading and help them process all the information. Your child will see a lot of political ads, both on TV and social media. It is important to talk to them about what they see and the message it portrays. Ask your child about their viewpoints and why they feel the way they do. This could be a great way to open an important conversation about ideals and values.
A lot of schools will have mock elections. You can relate it to your child by equating it to running for class president or student council. Talk about the differences and similarities and help your child establish what candidate they will vote for and why. This is also a good time to discuss peer pressure and the importance of your child having their own unique opinion. You can explain how the political system works, and how and why it affects your child on a daily basis. There are several children’s books about American Politics including Bad Kitty for President and books about the history of our country such as Why Don’t You Get a Horse, Sam Adams? You could also give your child quite a history lesson by listening to some of the G-rated songs on the soundtrack of the Broadway sensation, Hamilton.
During this political season, there are so many opportunities to talk to your child, educate your child, and get some thoughtful conversations going. Take advantage of these opportunities. At least something good can come out of all this craziness!