Talking to Kids About Politics

i_voted_sticker-2016Whatever political side you fall on, I think we can all agree that this election year was the craziest! We can’t go anywhere without seeing images, political ads, news stories on television, the internet and social media. And if your kids are anything like mine, they have been asking A LOT of questions. So, what is the best way to talk to our kids about politics? How do we share our beliefs with our children while ensuring that they form their own views, and most importantly, how do we teach our kids to be respectful of other people’s views?

Use this as a teaching opportunity.

  • Talk to your kids about history and how the right to vote was fought for. Talk to them about past Presidents and the accomplishments of each of them. What were their successes? What were their failures?
  • There is no avoiding the negativity of political campaigns. Our kids are bound to see things on television or hear the conversations adults are having when they think kids aren’t listening. I experienced this firsthand recently when my 5 year-old and I were watching television and a presidential candidate advertisement came on and my daughter said something negative about that candidate and I asked her where she heard that from, and she said mommy! Oh boy, that was certainly a teachable moment for both of us.  It’s important to keep it positive and to make it clear when a candidate’s behavior is not an acceptable behavior for your child or your family.
  • It’s equally important that our kids know that their opinions matter. Even though we may have our favorite candidate, the goal here is to teach our children to formulate their own opinions and not just adopt ours.
  • With all of the craziness surrounding the Presidential campaign, it’s easy to overlook the many other campaigns in our own communities. This is a great time to teach kids the political process at the local and state level.
  • Teach your kids that even though others may not have the same political opinions, it is still important that he or she be treated with respect. As parents, we need to model this behavior ourselves as our children are watching. Teach them to disagree respectfully even though there will be others that they will come across that won’t.
And last but not least teach your kids by getting out there and voting!
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