How to talk to your kids about the recent election

By Dr. Daniel Klein

While the very difficult 2016 presidential campaign and election is finally over, many people and especially children are feeling anxiety and uncertainty in the aftermath.  Here are some things to think about in trying to support your children and family:

-Listen to your kids and ask if they have any thoughts or concerns about the election. Keep this dialogue open with them for now and in the coming weeks and months. It’s ok to acknowledge the election made many people in our country uncomfortable, including yourself (if that is true). Discuss how it’s ok to be uncomfortable and that we will get through it.  These experiences can help us in other situations in life (such as receiving bad grade, not making a sports team, dealing with the unknown, etc).

-Be mindful of what you discuss in front of your child.  Kids are going to follow your lead and are paying attention. If you are feeling very anxious, find adults to be your support. This is a time to convey reassurance to our children.

– Assure your kids they will be ok and their lives and routines will stay the same.  You can give examples. They will still go to school, attend their activities, have their same friends, being cared for.

-Use this as an opportunity to explain how our government works and is made up of many representatives of the people from many different views.  Explain how we have many leaders who all help run our government and they are leaders who represent many points of view.

-Explain that Americans live amongst people from different backgrounds and beliefs. It’s ok to disagree as different beliefs are what have made this country successful and be a leader in the world.  As a country, we talk though our differences.  Most people disagree in respectful ways and we will continue to expect and demand this of ourselves and our leaders. Both President Obama and President-Elect Trump demonstrated this in their first meeting today.

-You can discuss how our leaders don’t always behave in ways we agree with and can even say things that are mean and not truthful. But, your family values of treating people with kindness, love  and respect will continue and you will  surround yourselves as much as possible with people who live these basic values.   As individuals and as a group, we will stand up to meaness and for rights of others.  If our leaders don’t follow our values, we will have future elections where the people can make a change.