“I can’t wait for this all to be over!” That’s what my 11-year-old exclaimed after seeing another political ad on TV. And that was in July. As Election Day approaches, the campaign ads and media coverage are heating up.
Regardless of political affiliation, most people can agree that the 2016 presidential race is like no other we’ve experienced. Many would also say that the negative tone is striking an all-time high. Thanks to the Internet and social media, campaign coverage is now 24/7, and children are experiencing it, too.
Your child may have questions. Even if they don’t, a presidential election year is a great learning opportunity. Here's how to help your kids understand this election year.
1. Look for Kid-Friendly News Outlets
Time for Kids, Scholastic Kids Press Corps, and DOGONews are just three examples of kid-friendly news outlets. Many have kid reporters! The sites help explain the day's events with age-appropriate terms and photos.
2. Talk About the Ads
A child may find it scary when she hears one candidate say, “we can’t survive another term with (fill in the blank).” Remember, little ones might not yet understand figures of speech and take things literally. Talk about what the ads say and why images and music are used.
3. Read Books About American Politics
There are some great books that can help explain the political process. Some examples include:
- Bad Kitty for President by Nick Bruel
- The Founding Fathers: Those Horse-Ridin’, Fiddle-Playin’, Book-Readin’, Gun-Totin’ Gentlemen Who Started America by Jonah Winter
- Cat or Dog for President by Julia Dweck
- Monster Needs Your Vote by Paul Czajak
4. Think of Ways to Get Involved
Kids may feel frustrated that they can’t vote. Teach them that while voting is one way to make your voice heard, it’s not the only way. For example, if your child is interested in nature, encourage them to recycle and do other activities to help the environment. If your child expresses concern for animals, they could start a pet food drive at their school.
5. Take a Break From it All
Sometimes the best approach is tuning out. Switch the channel, hit the mute button, or turn the TV off altogether.