How to Talk to your child about the election

This information by Dr. Markham has some really good tips for all age groups.

"Below is your age by age guide with talking points and questions to ask your child, to help them understand the electoral process and this unusual election. But first, some general guidelines.



  1. Turn off the news. Checking in periodically is more than sufficient. The roller coaster ride of rumors and fears shouldn't set the tone in your home, even on election day.


  1. Watch your own tendency to react strongly in front of your child. Kids take their cues from us, and our overreactions make them feel less safe. Calm yourself before you talk with your child.


  1. When your child asks you a question, first ask them what they have already heard about the issue, so that you can correct misinformation and alleviate anxiety. You may think democracy will suffer, over time, if one or the other of the candidates is elected, but your child might really be asking if they, and you, will be safe this week. So even more than giving your child information, you want to listen to their worries and reassure them. This is true for kids of all ages, even into the teen years.


  1. Don't be afraid to express your opinion, but back it up with facts. It's essential for kids to learn that civic conversations can be conducted with civility, and should be evidence-based, especially given our current civic atmosphere.


  1. When you speak with your child, resist the urge to demonize voters on the "other side." Many of us look at people who disagree with us and wonder 'How could they even think such a thing?' But all of us form opinions based on the information we get from our news sources and from social media. The person who disagrees with us is seeing completely different information on their social media feed and even from news sources, so they are forming completely different opinions about what is true. This is a problem your child's generation will have to grapple with, since ours has not been able to solve it. Use the opportunity to point this problem out to your child and discuss what this does to a democracy.

  2. Explain that legally the election is not completed, and no winner can be declared, until all the votes are counted. Usually in the US, all the votes are counted and a winner declared on the night of an election. But this year, many people are voting by mail because of the pandemic. Because some states don't start counting mail-in ballots until election day, we may not have all the ballots counted for a week. Ask your child "What can we do to help everyone stay patient and peaceful until all the votes are counted, to protect the democratic process and ensure fairness?"" Dr. Markham

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Doreen Steenland 
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