As I sit here writing this, we still don’t know the outcome of the Presidential election. And in all likelihood, it might be a few days before there is a clear winner– which leaves lots of time for kids to ask lots of hard-to-answer questions. No matter how you voted or which candidate you support, there are a lot of big feelings about this election. So let’s figure out talking to kids about the election.
So, how should we talk to kids about the election? Possip friend and former elected official herself, Elisa Hoffman, Founder of School Board School, shared some valuable wisdom and guidance.
Responding to Kid’s Questions
1. Answer the question your child has, not the ones you think they might have. And if they can’t quite articulate what their question is, you can ask– What are you thinking about? Worried about? Hearing?
2. Answer the question…but then stop. Start with what they want to know, but don’t feel like you need to fill in 100,000 other blanks. Or in other words– teach facts, facilitate feelings.
3. Don’t have this just be an every 4 years conversation. Talk about politics and government and elections regularly. There is an election every year in America. Something is always on the ballot. Get your kids involved in the conversations and the work. Canvas. Go vote– and take them with you. Listen to debates. As parents, we sometimes think they aren’t old enough, but they understand more than we think they do.
4. If there are big feelings in your own home, Hoffman recommends talking in developmentally appropriate terms about why you may feel anxious or nervous or excited. Explain, at a child’s level, why the election matters to your own family. For many, politics is personal. And just acknowledging that elections really matter for people may help children make sense out of a very unusual election cycle.
Taking Care of Yourself
Remember that the number one thing you can do for your children is caring for yourself. So take care of yourself!
Check out our post for teachers on talking to your students: https://possip.com/november-4th-in-your-school-tips-for-teachers-discussing-election-results/