The presidential race of 2016 is like none other. The people are demanding change and with change comes lots of messiness. In this case the messiness involves lots of lying, suspicion, bigotry and name calling.
Many of us adults are completely obsessed with the whole thing, constantly checking the news and reading and re-reading what the candidates are saying. This is okay because we are adults but having the kids too involved with the messiness can be damaging.
I am here to tell you that there are ways to limit the negative effects that a difficult campaign can have on kids.
#1 – Protect your younger kids from the anger and the hatred.
One of the most distinctive things about this election is the amount of anger that is flying around all over the place. Americans are angry and the candidates are responding with anger of their own, some of it targeting other Americans.
With younger kids it is important that you limit their exposure to the vitriol. Young kids are sponges and will absorb any information they are exposed too, some of it good, a lot of it damaging.
So turn off the TV when the kids are in the room. Don’t play videos of the candidates speaking where the kids can overhear. Don’t leave magazines and newspapers with explosive headlines lying around.
It’s summertime. Leave the media behind and get your kids outside.
#2 – Talk about the campaign with your older kids.
Your older kids will be exposed to many, many different perspectives on this election because of social media. Not everything they read will be accurate. Not everything they read will be true. Not everything they read will be aligned with the values that you have tried to teach them over the years.
Talk about the election with your kids. Let them ask questions and make an effort to answer them thoughtfully, to clarify what they may or may not have heard. And share with them your perspective on what is being said, trying to be as non-partisan as possible.
#3 – Don’t expect your kids to toe the party line with you.
You know what I am talking about. You see little kids attending rallies with their parents, wearing the candidates T-shirts. They stand with their parents and mimic everything their parents say, even if they have no idea what their words mean.
Keep your kids out of your politics until they are old enough to decide for themselves what they want and believe. Keep your children innocent for just a little bit longer because they will have plenty of time to suffer through this themselves when they are older.
#4 – Use this election as an opportunity to educate.
One of the greatest things about America is that it was born from a revolutionary spirit. America objected to how it was being treated by the British and it revolted and prevailed. As a result, a new nation was born, one based on liberty and equality.
America is going through such a revolution now. The people are protesting against the status quo, the way that our government is using it’s power to achieve stasis instead of growth. Our country is drowning in the mess of partisan politics and people have had enough.
Talk to your kids about all of this, how great America is and can be and how we need to recognize our failures and celebrate our victories and move forward together in a positive way.
#5 – Get yourself away from it all.
I know plenty of people who are so preoccupied with the election that it is taking over their lives. They are obsessed with what they read and see and spend countless hours arguing with anyone who wants to argue about what the candidates are bringing to the table.
This makes people very, very crabby. And this crabbiness can spill over into your relationships with your kids.
So get away from it regularly. Binge watch your favorite show, read a book, take your kids for ice cream. Give yourself a break from it all. Take a deep breath and smell the roses.
Set a good example.
We have 5 months left in this campaign. A lot of negative things are going to be said. A lot of name calling will be done. A lot of promises will be made that might not be kept.
Negativity, name calling and lying are all things that we have taught our kids not to do. It is essential that we, as the grown ups, limit their exposure and educate our children so that they can grow up to be the reasonable, thoughtful people we want them to be!
Has this blog made you pause and go hmmm? I have lots more to share, things that will help you live the life of your dreams. Contact me now and see how.
I am a NYC based Certified Life Coach and mental health advocate. My writing has been published on The Huffington Post, Prevention, Psych Central, Pop Sugar, MSN and The Good Man Project, among others. I work with all kinds of people to help them go from depressed and overwhelmed to confident and happy in their relationships and in their world.