Political talk can be negative, especially during presidential election years. While it might seem like you should avoid the topic, that isn’t really the best thing to do. ROBS Head of School Leanne Reynolds encourages families to seize the teachable moments that the election year presents. Here are some of her tips on how to talk to your kids about politics.
Presidential election years are great learning opportunities for our children. It is a chance for us, the adults, to model tolerance and respect. Use the good and the bad of the election year to seize some great teachable moments! This is time to communicate openly with your child about your political views; however, it is important that you teach your child how to appropriately express their viewpoint so that they are respectful of others with differing opinions.
Here are a few things you should consider:
Communicate with your child about the election, but provide a balanced perspective. Offering a balanced perspective may be hard, especially if you are passionate about your political beliefs. It is important to teach our children that people do have opposing views and we can talk about our differing points of view in a respectful manner. The key to talking about our differences is understanding those differences.
Remember that your child is listening to you; listening to what you are watching on TV, and listening to what you listen to on the radio. The media messages you get come with perspective, the messages your child gets may not. Be thoughtful about exposure. When appropriate, take the time to explain differing viewpoints, it will make for some amazing teachable moments.
When you talk to your child about your political viewpoint, share it as your own. Often kids feel like they are required to share their parent’s viewpoints, but there will come a time when they have their own viewpoint. You want to make sure that your communication with them is open so they are not afraid to talk to you when they don’t agree with you. One of our parental roles is to mold and shape our child’s viewpoint, but it isn’t to force them to share our opinion on everything. Create a relationship with them that encourages open and honest dialogue.
Talk to your kids about their views. Ask questions like, “What would you do if you were President?” or “What is one thing our President can do to make our country better?” Asking what your child knows about the election and how he knows it, is a great way to correct inerrancies and to share a broader perspective if needed. Engage your child in meaningful conversations about politics and political issues.
Stay positive. Politics can get nasty. This negative attribute of politics has to be confusing to children. Take the opportunity to remind your child that we don’t make fun of people’s mannerisms or their appearance. Instead of talking negatively about a candidate in front of your child, talk positively about your candidate of choice. Talk about what you like about them and how their ideas might improve our country.
Like any organization, our School is comprised of faculty and staff with diverse perspectives and political views. Regardless of our personal opinions, we believe our role is to remain positive and neutral with regard to political topics. Just as we have during the last few presidential elections, students will have an opportunity to view the Presidential Inauguration at school. We believe it is important to share these historical moments with our students regardless of which party wins the election.
Your child values your respect and acceptance above anyone else’s. Thank you for your partnership in helping us build a learning community of belonging, mutual respect, and supportive energy.
This blog entry was originally published as a letter to school families from ROBS Head of School Leanne Reynolds.