Politics are a hot topic in many households right now. Parents talk often as they watch their favorite news shows. Pundits are exclaiming all sides of many questions and children are listening. Even your smallest kids have their ears wide open. Grade school kids are forming opinions as much as tweens and teens. But are they are they really thinking about the issues?
How do we help our kids think? How do they form points of view, opinions, ideas, and question controversies? How do parents help their children understand current events?
Ten Tips for Talking to Your Kids About Politics and the Presidential Campaigns
1. Pay attention to what you say.
Children listen very carefully to your opinions. Often young children 12 and under make your opinions their own.
2. Help them think in gradations rather than in black and white dogmatic terms.
Help them consider there may not be wrong or right, one way only, but variations on themes to think about.
3. Help them see the complexities of questions.
First encourage them to question their ideas. Then let them see that there are many aspects to an issue.
4. Praise open-mindedness
Question them if they are dogmatic without logical reasoning behind their ideas.
5. Help them think from many points of view.
Encourage them to play devil's advocate on their own firm ideas.
6. Ask them what conservative and liberal mean?
Look on google with them and discuss the ideas presented.
7. Discuss any worries your child has about current news and events as they become aware of the wider world.
Encourage them to ask questions about what is or has happened and do research together to find out more. Ask their feelings about the events.
8. Share good news stories; don't just focus on the bad stuff.
Look for heroic acts and ways people are kind to each other.
9. Search out news articles in newspapers and on TV about areas your child is interested in such as a certain country, space exploration, political campaigns (local and national).
Do research together to see which politicians are favoring their interests
10. Go on the websites of the national contenders for the presidency and compare positions on different agendas.
Help them fine tune their positions on these agendas and encourage them to agree or disagree with you.
It's important that kids don't just imitate loosely stated positions they hear from us without forming their own educated positions. Encourage empathy with people who are unlike them that they do not have experiences with. Praise their open-mindedness and curiosity. Promote their desires for new discoveries. Discuss the purposes of government and how different people believe that those who govern should have more or less power. In fact, discuss power!!
Laurie Hollman, Ph.D., is a psychoanalyst and author of Unlocking Parental Intelligence: Finding Meaning in Your Child's Behavior, found on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Familius and wherever books are sold.