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Kids and Politics: What’s On Their Minds?

Submitted by on February 26, 2016 – 1:29 PMNo Comment
Kids and Politics: What’s On Their Minds?

The 2016 presidential election is one of the most intense in recent years. You see it everywhere you turn – on the television, on your Facebook news feed, and even on signs in your neighbor’s yard. Although you might think your kids are more interested in texting their friends or playing their favorite video games, what they’re really thinking might surprise you.

The Surprising Survey Results

KidsHealth.org, a popular website devoted to providing information to and about kids without “doctor lingo”, surveyed more than 2,000 children and teenagers across the country. They asked what these kids thought about presidential elections and whether they felt that the elections would have any impact on their lives. Believe it or not, 75% of kids 12 and under and 79% of the teens said they believed that the outcome of the presidential election would have a significant impact on their lives. What’s more, about half of the teens who were surveyed said they believed they had played at least some role in their parents’ choice in candidates.

What Does This Mean?

This survey shows that there may be more of a link between kids and politics than most parents believe. While adults can block out the signs, the bumper stickers, the Facebook posts, and the television ads, kids and teens behave like sponges, absorbing almost everything they see and hear. The media influences kids on many levels, and presidential elections are certainly no different. Understanding how your kids feel about these things can help you clear up misconceptions, calm fears, and potentially even see a few things from a different point of view.

Talking to Your Kids

A discussion with your kids about politics does not need to turn into an argument or even a debate. When discussing an election, be sure to talk about why you believe the things you do, but give your children an opportunity to talk about what they believe, as well. If you have opposing beliefs, there is no need to panic. In fact, kids and politics may have something to teach you. Ask your child to give you examples to support his or her viewpoint, or even ask your kids to explain why they feel the way they do. Not only can you hear things from a different point of view, but you are also teaching your children how to express their ideas and develop opinions as individuals.

Be Reassuring

Kids of all ages, from as young as five or six to as old as 16, worry about things that the candidates say in the heat of debates or on the news. Oftentimes, they fear that the economy will result in a parent losing his or her job, which may in turn cause homelessness and poverty. It is important to find out what your kids are thinking so that you can reassure them when necessary. What’s more, if you have a child who fears climate change as the result of a presidential debate, you can encourage him or her to get involved in the cause by brainstorming ideas to become eco-friendlier at home.

Many parents are unsure of how to approach the subject of kids and politics, and some even avoid the subject. However, the most important thing you can teach your child is that every single vote for a new elected official matters, especially if your child feels very strongly about a particular issue or set of issues facing the country today.

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