7 Tips for Talking About the Outcome of the Election with Kids

Happy or not with the outcome of the election, it's gonna come up. Here's how to help your kids digest the news.
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Whether you are happy with the election results or not, emotions are definitely running high. And with that, kids are hearing their parents' thoughts and feelings about the fact that Donald Trump is this country's new president-elect. My children have come home for weeks sharing with me what other kids, teachers, and adults around them are saying on the subject, and they are also hearing things on the news, and I can only imagine that in the aftermath of the election, this issue will persist.

It's with that in mind that we talked to Leslie Bushara, deputy director for education at the Children's Museum of Manhattan, to get tips for parents on how to talk to kids about the election. Here is what she recommends:

1. Take time to pause and gather your feelings, whether you are delighted or disturbed by the election's outcome. Remember, your children will be looking to you to determine how they should react to the news. Children want to know that their daily routine will not change. Remind them that today the family got up, you went to school, and we went to work. And tonight we will have dinner. That will not change and is important for all age groups, even teens.

2. Remind kids that democracy is messy. When you can, talk with your children about what President Obama called "the boisterous diversity of our country." Help young children understand that, like a family, we won't always agree as citizens either.

3. Make sure that your children are listened to and that their voice matters. Younger children need to be heard, even if their thoughts are not as well formed. As noted in previous tips, now is a great time to work on learning to listen to one another and practice disagreeing respectfully.

4. Teach kids about how to be gracious winners and a good losers. Remind them, as in sports, not to make fun of those who supported the losing candidate and to also not be unkind toward those who won.

5. Take the time to help an upset child understand that the president is an elected position, and that it isn't permanent. Explain that in four years there will be another election, and the people will be able to pick again.

6. Look for things that you can do as a family to support your values and interests. Find things to do that are familiar and comforting. Spend time together reading books, playing games, or visiting neighborhood parks and museums.

7. Remember that whether your family is celebrating, mourning, or just getting used to the idea of change, faith communities, cultural institutions, and nonprofits all offer opportunities for empowerment, learning, and even much needed fun.

The tips about being gracious and respecting others' points of view are the most important for me.

How are you helping your kids understand the outcome of this election?

Melissa Willets is a writer/blogger and a mom. Find her on Facebook where she chronicles her life momming under the influence. Of coffee.

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