How to talk to your children about the presidential election

SCRANTON, PA – NOVEMBER 07: A boy listens to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump during a campaign rally in the Lakawanna College Student Union November 7, 2016 in Scranton, Pennsylvania. With less than 24 hours until Election Day in the United States, Trump and his opponent, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, are campaigning in key battleground states that each must win to take the White House. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

America officially has a new POTUS and the path to victory was anything but smooth. The entire nation has been riveted by the contentious presidential race between Hillary Clinton and president-elect Donald Trump which left the country divided. On Wednesday, with 92 percent of votes counted, Clinton and Trump each held about 48 percent of the popular vote.

While many adults are processing their own feelings, whether they are feeling victorious or defeated, children have been watching or listening and may now be wondering what it all means.

Across the metro area, the hallways of elementary schools were filled with children expressing their views. Their comments ranged from those who championed Trump as president to those who thought his victory signaled the end of the world.

As Andisheh Nouraee of Decatur walked his six-year old daughter to school on Wednesday, he had one thing on his mind.

“What I wanted to do with her was shield her from the fear that I felt. We told her that we were sad and that we wanted it to be the other way. But obviously there is no point in a six-year old being despairing about that,” said Nouraee, co-author of Americapedia:Taking the Dumb Out of Freedom (Walker, $16.99), a book that uses humor to explain the American political system to teens.

Nouraee told his daughter that school may be a little weird given what some people are feeling and he reassured her that she could always talk to him, her mom or a teacher if there was something she wanted to discuss.

According to some experts, he is on the right track.

“The very first thing to understand is that young children take their cues from their parents. As a parent if you are stressed out and reactive, your own reactions to things play a key role in how your child responds,” said Atlanta-based psychologist Betsy Gard.

Gard said parents sometimes forget that, while their children are playing with dolls or coloring, they may still observe and absorb any reactions their parents are having. One important step in helping your children is helping yourself, she said.

Take a break from media coverage of the election, go outside or exercise. And whether you supported Clinton or Trump, take a moment to shift your perspective.

“Take a long-distance perspective as a country. We have been through a lot of things and have been rocking along for hundreds of years,” Gard said.

When you are prepared to discuss the election with children, be sure to use age-appropriate concepts and terms, she said.

While you may explain the three levels of government and how they work together to an older child, you should stick to the basics with younger kids. You might, for example, explain that the country elected a president as we do every four years. Explain to a 5-year-old that when he or she turns nine, we will do it all over again.

Parents may also want to communicate to children that some people get excited about a new president and some people get upset. It is a good time to remind them how to be gracious whether they win or lose any type of race.

The most important thing, said Gard, is to offer them reassurance and let them know that you are always available to talk.

“Kids will hear a lot of things over the coming weeks but at the end of the day your words will resonate most strongly with them,” said Stephanie O’Leary, a clinical psychologist who specializes in neuropsychology.

For O’Leary, a mom of two, this election also presented a unique opportunity to teach her children about respect. Parents, she said, must model respectful behavior for their children.

“If you are able to share your thoughts and feelings while choosing respectful words then you set the tone that disrespect is not tolerated. If and when your child hears disrespectful commentary, it will register with them and it will feel wrong. It will feel inappropriate. At the end of the day, that’s exactly what you want as a parent,” said O’Leary.

On Wednesday, she made sure her children were prepared for the school day by sending them off with the understanding that no matter what happens at school, she expected each of them to behave appropriately and to choose their words wisely.

“I told them that I trust they will make good decisions and that I am here for them if they have any questions,” O’Leary said.

Engaging your child is a great way to be sure your values are passed on to them. Take walks together or do something altruistic like volunteering in the community.

“The idea is that you have power to make changes in your neighborhood and in your community no matter what happens in an election,” Gard said.

In the coming weeks, Nouraee said he plans to do just that. As he left his daughter’s school and heard the voices of other parents talking about the election, he offered a hug to a friend.

“It is about recommitting to what it is you believe in,” he said. “It means being a good friend or a good neighbor and letting your kids see that.”

Reader Comments 0

57 comments
Jim Mitchell
Jim Mitchell

You can start out if have not already done so that the mainstream media distorted just about everything Trump said, the polls were incorrect and that Trump won the Electoral College and the popular vote.

John Fair
John Fair

Tell them we don't live in a democracy, it's a constitutional republic, and the electoral college is there to protect the sovereignty of the states, and prevent mob rule

John Moses
John Moses

Thank you. I was about to type the same thing....

Journeynicole Crocker
Journeynicole Crocker

They try to portray it like it's the Muslims or Brown People(any other race) that does the killing in America, ignoring the domestic terrorist. Let's deal with the hard core truth yes. In all of history it is white Christians that have committed the most horrific atrocities on this earth. America alone was taken by the largest genocide in fuqing history period. White Christians who brought their religion with them and then committed the most horrific act known to man. Quit sweeping that under the rug. The next comes by white Christians the human trafficking and enslaving other human beings by judging them less, a sin by the way. Then the raping, mutilation, beatings, and murder is the second most horrific act. Third was the birth of the KKK. White Christians that were and are terrorists. Burning homes and churches isn't that a joke. Christians burning the house of God. Blasphemy much??? The East St. Louis massacre (200-700), Arkansas (Elaine) massacre (854), Tulsa massacre (300-3000) and The Rosewood massacre (150). Also beating, raping, lynching, and horrific murders right up to the early 70's. The worst terrorist attack 2nd only to 9/11 is the Oklahoma bombing by two white males. Almost all of the mass shootings are white Christian males. So do not cherry pick one for their countless atrocities that we not only allow but, Thanksgiving you celebrate the worst genocide in history. Insane right? Roof, a White Christian male shot up a African American church. The Louisiana movie theater shooting Another white Christian male. Tucson, Aurora, Lafayette, Oak Creek, Newton, Santa Barbara, Charleston, massacres. They are the worst and those false claims of Christianity is the worst in the world. It was Christians that started beheading, chopping of the feet/hands, stoning, whipping and burning people alive. Calling them witch or demon and hanging and beheading them because they were different from the norm. Holy Wars for greed another blasphemy. Wake up! Your own prejudice and hates are no different than who you point fingers at. And they are the worst. Hitler and the whole bloody Third Reich. By the way did you know Prescott Bush was a personal friend of Hitlers? He admired his NWO he funded millions to Hitlers campaign. That would be Bush Jr's grandpa. Look it up. There's so much more that is unrecorded and recorded that isn't in this small post. And much more with that family. And feel free to look things up I encourage it. I'm not saying radical Islam doesn't exist, just don't make it like radical Christianity and racism doesn't exist on the very same level.http://factmyth.com/factoids/democrats-and-republicans-switched-platforms/

Journeynicole Crocker
Journeynicole Crocker

The stupid thing is you actually have illegal immigrants calling others illegal immigrants. This country wasn't discovered it was invaded. They invaded it by murdering, beating, raping, enslaving, lying, cheating, robbing and stealing the land from its rightful owners. Then have the audacity to call someone else an illegal immigrant and want to say who should and shouldn't be here. What a joke!

Carol Rowe
Carol Rowe

Tell them to suck it up...these are not babies they are college kids

Gary A Nelson
Gary A Nelson

Tell them to get over it and quit coddling them. That's just stupid. Kids grieving over an election they likely don't even understand. They don't even work yet. They sit in class and get their minds pumped full of socialist liberal gibberish.

Sandy Jordan
Sandy Jordan

I guess they wouldn't be so scared if the media and liberals weren't acting like it is the end of the world. Try teaching them to obey the law and to think for themselves. Work and be a productive member of society. Respect each other and others property.

Denise Benz Brooks
Denise Benz Brooks

Yeah you tell your kids grow up and get an education or I would pull them out of school if I was a paying parent, and if the dumbasses got student loans , haha they still gotta pay it back.

Chris Gvozd
Chris Gvozd

Sit them down and say, suck it up butter cup, time to grow up

Courtland Jones
Courtland Jones

Tell children it was a bad dream. We'll figure it out 4 years from now!

Jim Chapman
Jim Chapman

Just tell them the truth. Someone who ostensibly makes the most noise is not always the best candidate. The squeaky wheel, although very noisy, is not always deserving of any attention nor consideration. If the truth be told to your children, it is better to go high when someone chooses to go low.

Derrick Smith
Derrick Smith

The last eight has hurt white pride tremendously so the only talk has been about racism & jealousy even the kids can see.

Elaine Jones
Elaine Jones

Um just tell them they have a new president duh

Willie Hires
Willie Hires

Children listen to me, in life their are winners and losers and that applies to everything, just because you show up and work or play you don't get or deserve a trophy, one wins the other loses, that's life the way it should be.

Justin Earl
Justin Earl

Yeah, let me look to the corporate agenda of news agencies for parenting tips.

John Boggs
John Boggs

Tell them how the greatest country in the world was this close (pinch your fingers) to a bloodless coup by the liberal elites and the vast silent majority rose up and crushed it.

Danny Hoosline
Danny Hoosline

AMERICA....... DRAIN THE SWAMP .... MAKE IT HAPPEN........

Tony Gallina
Tony Gallina

Tell the children we saved the Country from what would have been the most vile evil fckin monster we have ever witnessed hiding as a human being

MW Ellis
MW Ellis

My 14 year old watched all the debates and was excited Trump won. We are a Pro Agriculture family so we are for Trump

Derrick West
Derrick West

Yeah it's easy on how to explain it to them. When we have an election someone has to win and someone has to lose. This is life you always can't win. Trump won the electoral college in reaching the 270 mark. Hillary did not make it to that number which she lost. You don't protest the results or riot. You had your chance to protest in voting for who you wanted on nov. 8th. You will have another chance in 2 years for mid term election and 4 more years to vote for a new president if you don't like trump.

Terra Parker
Terra Parker

Tell them not everyone wins and they HAVE to fail to succeed in life!

James Minor
James Minor

Tell them the least qualified candidate won and that they should be scared.

James Minor
James Minor

You mean CONSTITUTIONAL LAWYER. Oh, and Trump is a con man and nothing more.

Lee Griffith
Lee Griffith

Just turn in your man card. She lost! Get over it and go about your life. Anything else is just whining.

Matt Woodard
Matt Woodard

We just endured eight years of a community organizer. I think we can survive eight more with a billionaire businessman.

Will Gara
Will Gara

I don't remember my parents talking to us about elections back in the 60's and 70's. I don't think we cared.

Carly Shiver
Carly Shiver

We need to teach children about our election process. Explain how blessed we are to live in a democracy. Stress the importance of doing their own research and finding a candidate that shares their belief system. Finally we must stress that no matter what the news says or who parents and celebrities endorse it is vital that a person stands by what he or she believes even if it isn't the popular choice. Once the election is over we must teach our children not to gloat if their candidate wins and not to lash out if their candidate loses. Why is this article and others like it even available in the first place? Every election cycle a canidate wins and the other loses. There is no need for all of this. All this article is achieving is telling children their opinion is wrong if it doesn't match what the politically correct standard is. That is not okay. We need to come together and give him a chance because like it or not he is our next president. That is what we need to teach our children. This election has brought out the worst in BOTH sides and articles like this are just beating a dead horse. One important lesson this election has taught many is that you don't always win.

Mike Cap
Mike Cap

Kids want to get high and laid. They dont give a F about politics.

Bobby Lamb
Bobby Lamb

"He may have won the electoral college, but he must win the respect of everyone. And respect is not given by demand. Respect is earned." ~ Khizr Khan

Dona Elaine Hubbs
Dona Elaine Hubbs

Do you think ANYONE respects these thugs and societal degenerates? Trump does not need to earn the respect of these rioters..they need to be locked up till they learn some respect for society. Let's start there. Whoever raised these idiots need to be slapped.

Bobby Lamb
Bobby Lamb

Dona Elaine Hubbs Tweets from Donald J. Trump - November 6, 2012: "We can't let this happen. We should march on Washington and stop this travesty. Our nation is totally divided!" "Lets fight like hell and stop this great and disgusting injustice! The world is laughing at us." "This election is a total sham and a travesty. We are not a democracy!" "The electoral college is a disaster for a democracy." "Our country is now in serious and unprecedented trouble...like never before."

John Kay
John Kay

Most people with half a brain never respected Obama. A Muslim that pandered to the Islamic world.

Dona Elaine Hubbs
Dona Elaine Hubbs

Bobby Lamb...where in that tweet does it say 'Let's riot, loot, burn businesses, destroy property, assault opposition and police' ????? Nice try, thanks for playing.

Bobby Lamb
Bobby Lamb

John Kay Your reply must be from that empty half of your brain.

Mario Tilelli
Mario Tilelli

Yes, because "Tweets" are far worse then actual felony's. But Your right... Respect, (& trust for that matter) are earned. & is why Killary, a 40 year career politician, who has neither, was beaten by Trump.

Terry Case
Terry Case

I respect Trump and so do millions of others. I doubt he is concerned about your feelings on the matter lol I know I wouldn't lose sleep over it.

Keith Pflepsen
Keith Pflepsen

I told my kids and we all watched trumps speech. I told them to work and be productive. Obama is no longer president.

James Minor
James Minor

Yeah, you told them act like a child and wait for me to give you everything. Just like Trump.