Talking to your kids about the election

The presidential election campaigns have been stressful for everyone—even kids. Many parents are struggling to find the right way to talk about politics with their children, or they are worried about what might happen if the outcome of the election is not immediately clear.

Two handmade signs in a window that read VOTE NOVEMBER 3 and PLAN YOUR VOTE.

Caroline Watts, a practicing child therapist and Penn Graduate School of Education’s director of School and Community Engagement, offers these ideas for how parents can prepare for these conversations.

Watts suggests checking in with yourself first. “Before we talk about kids, let’s talk about you. Are you OK? Are you taking care of yourself mentally, physically, and emotionally?”

Reframe politics so that it’s about values, not vitriol. And make your home a refuge from election drama.

“There is a real possibility that the election results will be delayed, or disputed. Kids, especially young kids, will likely have questions. They might be anxious,” says Watts. “Don’t try to pretend there isn’t uncertainty in the country. Children are generally more aware of the world than we think they are, including current events. Be reassuring. No matter what is happening in the outside world, you will take care of the family.”

Read more at Penn GSE.