It's Election Day. The rhetoric has been unkind among adults and sometimes that has filtered down to the elementary school playgrounds.
How should you talk to your kids about the results?
In 2016, after the election, we asked Julia Hoke, a licensed psychologist and the director of psychological services at the Austin Child Guidance Center, what to tell our kids. She offered this advice:
If your side won, it’s important to let kids know that some of their friends might not share their enthusiasm. They or their friends might say things in the heat of the moment that they don’t mean, and that also might have happened during the campaign.
The general message to give to your child no matter how they sided: Be kind; try to see it from someone else’s position.
If mean words continue and a friend won’t let up, tell an adult.
For kids who might be feeling hurt that their side didn’t win or who are concerned about the outcome, it’s important to calm their fears as best as you can, Hoke said.
Be honest with your children about how you are feeling, but don’t try to scare them by giving them too much information or too much emotion. The information you give to a 5-year-old is going to be different than to an 11-year-old.
Most kids really want to know: What does it mean for me, our family and my friends? Try to be reassuring, but you can be honest and tell them that you really don’t know. Continue to reassure them that your job as a parent is to keep them safe.
There's still time to get your kids involved in this election. Try these tips today:
Take them with you to the voting booth. They can even help you hit the button to cast the ballot.
Watch the news with them as results come in.
Explain what politics really mean. What’s the difference philosophically between a Democrat and a Republican? what are the three branches of government and why are they important?
Download the League of Women Voters’ Voters Guide at lwvaustin.org/voter-guide. You and your children can discover what the local propositions are all about and become informed about the local races.
For younger children, go to PBS Kids’ Democracy Project, pbskids.org/youchoose. You can create your own campaign poster and collect presidential trading cards.
Take the vote to the classroom. Ask your child’s teacher if students will be voting in class and how he or she will handle the election.
Watch the election results together. And when it’s bedtime, assure them that you will let them know the results in the morning. Remind them that even if their candidate loses, we’re very fortunate to live in a country where we get to vote. Remind them that not that long ago women and people of color couldn’t vote. Explain to them why you took the time that day or earlier to vote.