Elections - Ways to Discuss

With the election coming up in a few weeks, and media drowning in ads, mainly negative ones, how should we be talking to our children about the election? They range in age from elementary school through high school. -- Too Much Politics

Answer: What parents discuss with their children about the election depends on the age of each child. In any case, try to keep emotion out of the conversation and provide factual information.

Elementary School Children -- It's important for these young children to understand exactly what voting involves and what the president does, as well as the requirements an individual must meet in order to become president. --They should also learn that the donkey is the official mascot of the Democratic party, and the elephant is the Republican mascot. --Try to read a kid-friendly book dealing with American politics. One choice is "Bad Kitty for President."

Middle School Children --You need to discuss the truth of candidates' statements. See if they can figure out which ones really reflect what the candidate might do if he or she became president. --If or when you get mad at a candidate, try to explain why.

High School Students --Now is the time to watch news programs together. Do not just watch network broadcasts, but also those outlets that are more closely aligned to each party. Talk about any new views of the candidates each of you may have gained. --Be prepared for children of this age to have different political views than their parents. Try to foster a discussion of how each arrived at his or her viewpoint. Bring out the role media and social media played in your differences.