Young children may be unsure how to feel after last week’s presidential election if they’ve been listening to the news or to the adults in their lives discussing the candidates and the issues at stake for the past several months. If they have questions about what just happened, these tips can help you navigate what may be a sensitive subject for you, too.
How to talk to your kids about the election:
- Acknowledge the child’s emotional reactions. Explore what the child is thinking and feeling. Provide emotional validation for their feelings.
- Provide a safe place, literally and figuratively, for the child to express feelings. Be mindful of the emotional climate of your home. Provide child with opportunities to talk, dictate and draw about the election. Offer variety of modalities for expressing feelings – art, drumming, dance, physical exercise, clay, drama.
- Limit exposure to media coverage and conversations about the election between adults in the home.
- Be a good listener and a good observer. Pick up on subtle expressions and extreme responses of anxiety or fear. Seek professional guidance regarding behavior problems or significant behavior changes that persist.
- Use this as an opportunity to talk about principles of democracy in age appropriate language. Provide actual examples in child’s life, such as resolving conflicts, accepting different opinions, etc.
- Using age appropriate language, discuss the importance of standing up for your principles and values, making sure that your voices are heard, speaking up when there is a wrong and defending what you believe is right.
About the Author: Orly Zimmerman-Leizerov, LCSW-C, is a social worker at JSSA.