How to talk to your child about politics and the election, even if there are differing political views in a household

Published: Nov. 6, 2020 at 8:53 AM MST
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - Talking to your kids about politics can be difficult, especially if there are differing political views in a household, or among peers at school. 11 News spoke with The Children’s Hospital, Colorado Springs, about how to help kids handle the stress of politics at home and at school.

One thing parents can do is initiate conversations about the election. Often times, parents may think talking about issues can make kids more stressed, when it actually could help educate them.

“You can’t avoid as a kid being exposed to what’s going on. It’s on social media. It’s on ads on YouTube. It’s everywhere," said Dr. Jessica Hawks, Child and Adolescent Psychologist at The Children’s Hospital.

Experts say the number one source of kid’s news is from social media, which can potentially lead to inaccurate information. Parents should sit down with their kids and help them navigate all the different information, and understand what’s real and accurate.

Dr. Hawks says it’s normal to feel anxious or stressed right now, as there is still some uncertainty with the election. Parents can acknowledge and normalize those feelings and connect with their kids on an emotional level.

“Parents can model effective coping methods for their kids, because the number one way kids know how to navigate the world is by watching the adults in their life. So if parents are doing a good job taking care of themselves, kids are going to be doing a better job taking care of themselves," said Dr. Hawks.

Since the election is out of our control at this point, parents can focus on the things we can control, by having conversations like, how can you contribute to an improved society, how can we make positive changes, and what do we have control over?

The Children’s Hospital has seen an influx of bullying related to the election, something they’ve never seen before. Experts are seeing not just high-schoolers, but even younger kids talking politics. They may not fully understand the election or the candidates, but they do mimic what their parents, or adults in their life, say or do.

“When kids come from different households or different political views, but they don’t really understand what they’re saying, that can really cause a lot of misinformation, misunderstanding but tension because that’s what we’re seeing adults doing right now,” said Dr. Hawks.

As we approach the holiday season, experts say if politics come up in conversation, try and have a healthy discussion about it and understand both sides, rather than argue. Even if you have differing political views in a household, it can be a powerful life lesson to kids.

“There’s been arguing, there’s been name calling and that’s what our kids are going to do if that’s what they see. We can have these conversations in a respectful way with our family members that actually can be really powerful for kids to see," said Dr. Hawks.

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