First Political Steps

Some kids just seem to have a knack for politics. Whether theirs is a politically inclined family or not, some kids just have a sense of issues and competition and structure...and student government is a terrific outlet and application for that interest and inclination.

Child Politician

If your child shows an interest in government and politics, there are things you can do to encourage his or her budding political career. Helping your child - along with his or her teachers - to navigate the process of running for a student government position can be an education for both of you, both in the process itself but also in learning about appropriate strategies and ways to talk about issues in a constructive manner.

A microcosm

There's a saying that all politics is local. It's a way of saying that all the big issues in our country trickle down to affect local poltical races and individuals. While you might be hard pressed to make some connections between national laws and debates about the organization of the pep rally before a big football game, it's there.

As such, schools and school student government are a microcosm of bigger issues, and promoting constructive debate and ethical methods starts here. While your child, as student government vice-president, may not be able to actually get a school district-wide policy about the student lounge changed, it is great practice for how to talk about hot-button issues, interract with others who have different opinions, compromise, and so on.

Fun and games and work

Guiding your child through a student government election can be lots of fun for both of you. From articulating the reasons why your child wants to participate and compete in this way to developing a committee and a budget, it's a way to show them in small ways how the big elections are done from a practical and organizational level. It can be a terrific way to demonstrate that while politics can be fun, it's also work to run a campaign. Campaigns at any level do not happen by magic!

Win or lose

Student government elections, though, may also be a child's first taste of political loss - and not necessarily a deserved one. Lower level elections - in schools and small communities - still often have a tinge of a popularity contest, and if your child is not a part of a particular group of kids, it may be harder to break through. This situation is, however, another opporutunity to teach about the importance of the effort and the process, even if the outcome is not as desired. It's a hard lesson, to be sure, but teaching graceful winning and losing early can have positive ramifications for your child for the long term - even if he or she never runs another political race again.?

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