The 2020 presidential election will take place on November 3rd, and the outcome of this election will significantly impact our country. With the COVID-19 pandemic, the fragile economy, and social injustice unrest, this election’s possible results will leave many frustrated and angry. According to Kelly Burch from Insider.com, these feelings of the political divide can be understood by children as young as three years old. To help children better understand what is happening and become engaged citizens, we have to start by including them in the conversation. This year, involve children in your political discussions, at a kid-friendly level, of course to help children become excited, engaged citizens—even before they are old enough to cast their ballot!
When is the right time to start talking about politics?
According to On Our Sleeves, The Movement to Transform Children’s Mental Health, children as young as three years old can begin to understand the essential components of politics. At around three years of age, children start to understand facts and opinions, that everyone has differences of views, and see multiple ways of solving issues.
How do I bring up the discussion and make it relevant to them?
Books and educational programming are always great resources to look at for beginning hard conversations with children. Seeing the actions characters take in books or on screen can spark a child’s interest to learn more about why the character did that. Some examples of books to use to start these conversations are:
- “The Little Book of Presidential Elections” by Zack Bush
- “When You Grow Up to Vote” by Eleanor Roosevelt and Michelle Markel
- “Vote!” By Eileen Christelow
- “Sofia Valdez, Future Prez” by Andrea Beaty
- “Spring After Spring” by Stephanie Ross Sisson
- “We Are The Water Protectors” by Carole Lindstrom
Pause throughout the book to talk about what the characters are doing and ask children relevant questions, such as: What do you think would be important qualities as a leader? What would be important to you if you were the president? When did you have to make a hard decision? How did you decide? From there, begin talking about why America has its government and how the founding fathers creating our government.
Illustrate to the children how democracy works with a real-life scenario. Example scenarios could be what movie should the family watch tonight or what the classroom snack will be. Presenting a democracy scenario will help the children recognize that not everyone will agree on the result. Still, everyone will get the opportunity to make their voice heard.
How can I involve my child on election day?
This November 3rd, take your children with you to the polls. In all 50 states and Washington, D.C., children are invited to join their parents at the voting polls, but some areas may have specific rules about how many children are permitted. Call your local board of elections ahead of time if you plan on bringing more than one or two children. Taking your children with you will also take the mystery out of the voting process for the child. If this will be your first-time voting, take your child, and have them learn with you. Taking them with you will help leave a lasting impression on them and make them feel like they were part of the voting process. With your celebratory, “I Voted” sticker take a selfie of you and your child and share it with social media to show that you voted!
No matter the election result, it is important to let your child know that their voice counts.