Win or lose, how to talk to children about the election

Wednesday, November 9, 2016
How to talk to children about elections
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Election season can be a stressful time for children, too.

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- Child psychologists say that parents are the main influence in how children react to the presidential election results. Experts say parents should acknowledge and validate their child's feelings.

For some parents the conversation about president-elect Donald Trump happened early Wednesday morning.

Liz Beck, a mother of two and a Hillary Clinton supporter says her 7-year-old is devastated.

"It's unimaginable to my kid," Beck said. "He was bawling this morning, and I'm in tears trying to figure out how to explain to my child that so many people in this country hate each other. I told him that it is his job to love others and it's his job to protect his friends who are in marginalized groups."

Children and parents from more conservative families, on the other hand, were pleased by Trump's victory.

ABC 11 spoke to a mom who wanted to remain anonymous but expressed what she told her 8-year-old.

"Our candidate won, but when we talk to our kids we talk more about the values that we have," the mother said. "One candidate did not hold to our values, which we felt was very important. Thankfully, she didn't win."

Whether your candidate won or lost, psychologist Dr. Robin Gurwitch says parents should reinforce the values you want your children to have, such as unity or respect for people's differences and opinions.

Experts say it's also important to reassure children who are concerned and anxious that regardless of the election results - in your home they are safe. And they should come to you if they feel bullied.

Abigail Simmons is a parent of a 10-year-old. She wants to convince him not to worry.

"Every place you live in, you're going to have leaders -- good ones and bad ones. And as long as you do your part in life - in your position - you will be fine," Simmons said.

Robert Boyle is the father of a 6-year-old.

"It's really just keeping the faith with our children to let them know that hey, it's not the end of the world. The sky is not falling and the sun came up today," Boyle said.

Experts say parents should focusing on the positives in the election - such as having the right to vote.

Gurwitch also says families need a break from this election.

She suggests taking your child to the park or reconnecting around something they enjoy.

ABC11 reached out to Lisa Luten, a spokesperson for Wake County Schools via email. Luten said student reaction to the election results have not risen to her attention.

Durham Public Schools spokesperson Chip Sudderth said civic teachers are weaving the topic into their curriculum and counselors are available to handle student reaction.

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