Expert Advice on Talking to Kids About Election Results

Name calling. Finger pointing. Accusations of lying, cheating and breaking the law. This election has driven all these political tactics to unbelievable extremes. Now that it’s all over, how do you help your kids understand an election that has most of the adults around them scratching their heads in disbelief?

Cynthia Edwards and Gwynn Morris, developmental psychologists at Meredith College, have advice for parents on how to talk to their kids about the presidential election and its aftermath. “Turn off the TV until you can watch together and help your kids process what they are seeing,” advises Edwards, the head of the Department of Psychology and Social Work at Meredith College.

“Younger kids will pick up on the emotional tone of the adult conversations around them, even if they appear engaged in their own play,” says Morris, an associate professor of psychology, “Angry words and stony silences have ripple effects for young children, whose primary need is a sense of safety and security. Moderating your tone, sticking to normal routines and saving the more intense political discussions for child-free hours will help buffer young children from election stress.”

Edwards notes that even teenagers might need help navigating the post-election atmosphere: “This presidential race doubled down on the shocking discovery all teens and tweens are grappling with that adults don’t have all the answers. This forces a confrontation with adolescent idealism that can be difficult to cope with.” Assuring kids of all ages that it is not, in fact, the end of the world, will be more important in this post-election season than any before.

 

Cynthia Edwards: edwardsc@meredith.edu or (919) 760-8441

Gwynn Morris: morrissg@meredith.edu or (919) 760-8442