It seems that politics these days isn’t just a topic of conversation for adults anymore. Parents and teachers alike are reporting that they overhear children talking about the recent political discourse in the schoolyard, playground, on playdates or even in the bathtub! Unfortunately, since a lot of the messaging has had negative themes like name-calling and pessimism, it can potentially impact our young ones adversely. So what to do when your child brings up something he or she heard either on the news or from a peer, friend or even family member?
Here are some tips to help you keep things positive and also current:
Use developmentally appropriate language
If your eight-year-old starts asking you about “building a wall” or “starting a revolution,” you’ll want to explain the situation with facts, but also in a way that he or she can understand. For example, “Starting a revolution can be another way of making positive change.” Limit exposure to news programming, especially during primetime hours. While appropriate for adults to watch, sometimes we do not realize how the discourse can cause worry for children (for example, discussing guns, wars, etc.). So, if you do have the news on in the background while making dinner, make sure that there isn’t anything being said that could keep your child up at night.
Use this as an opportunity to teach your child about the political process of electing a president (and why it is a good thing)
Sometimes we get caught up in the sensationalism of everything that is going on, while forgetting that we have the privilege of living in a democracy where we can elect our own officials. This can be a good time to enlighten your children about the U.S. political process. Let them know that while there are things that people dislike, there are many things to enjoy and be proud of.
Remember that every person and family has different values
This is often why people avoid discussing politics, as it can be personal and emotional. But if personal values do come up, it’s important that your child practices tolerance, meaning that he or she can hear someone else’s values without overtly judging them or saying something that could hurt their feelings. Encourage your children to bring their thoughts and questions home so that they can discuss in a safe space and also so that they can learn more about the values you espouse.