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EXPLAINING DEMOCRACY TO THE FUTURE

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A FEW MORE DAYS!
 
We are moments away from learning who will be running our country for the next 4 years. I don't know about you, but I'm anxious as hell. 
An election year and voting is a great opportunity to start the conversation about democracy with our children. 
Gone are the days where the biggest scandal is a candidate misspelling POTATO! 
The little minds around us are absorbing the world and formulating question after question after question. 
So what do we do to guide them through this journey that is causing us anxiety?
Meet our expert, Joshua Castillo
Joshua, also known as the Child Whisperer, is a teacher, director, consultant, parent, and all-around optimist that will help you uncover many parenting possibilities.

Joshua lays out a framework for approaching the questions of politics and this election with your children. 
 
Read her article below!
The Election is coming!
 
What do you say when your child sees a long line of voters on the tv screen and asks what they are doing?

What do you say when your child asks why people look angry when they talk about Trump or Biden?
 
What do you say when your child expresses an opinion about a politician you never said? 

When it comes to politics what do you say?
 
For starters, acknowledge your child’s question or statement. Don’t warp it to something more comfortable for you. We all do it. We pretend to hear something different and keep talking until your child surrenders the initial inquiry and makes do with what you are offering.  Too much of this technique signals to your child that you are either not in tune with them,  that they should ask someone else, or create the belief you are not up to the task of dispensing information. 
 
Secondly, be a reliable source of information.  What that means is you provide non-biased definitions.   This allows your child to create a foundation with which to evaluate and critically examine other situations. Here is an example:
 
“Mommy, not voting is bad.”  You would begin by asking them what they mean. Bad how? Bad to whom? Bad in which way?
 
Asking your child gives you a better sense of their context. You get to understand rather than assume what they are trying to make sense of.  Next, explain how this action may be perceived by differing groups.  The ability to share differing perspectives allows your child to see you as a reliable source of information.  Your child gets to experience you, the parent, as someone who is level headed. A parent who can easily give a bird’s eye view of a situation that doesn’t alienate or judge a particular group of people.  Instead, the broad factual foundation will set the stage for honest reflection as to why your particular bias does exist. 
 
Lastly, present your opinion in a way that is accessible to your child. Don’t overwhelm them with too much information.  Less is more. Allow their follow-up question to guide the conversation.
 
 
Here is an example of one of my recent conversation:
 
Child:  Mommy, not voting is bad.
 
Me:      What do you mean?
 
Child:  People need to vote. People are bad if they don’t vote.
 
Me:      Yes, votes are needed to help make laws and pick leaders, but some people
have different ideas or reasons why they don’t want to vote.
 
Child:  Why?
 
Me:      Some people don’t vote because their friends or family don’t vote.
Some people don’t vote because they don’t think their vote will make a difference.
Some people don’t vote because they think they will win because so many other people are voting anyway.
Some people don’t vote because they think the leader or bill won't help them.
Some people are scared to vote because they don’t agree with all the people they know and they think someone will find out.
 
 
Child:  Oh, when I am big I will vote.
 
Me:      Yes, when you are old enough you will have the right to vote. You will read
information to help you figure it out or maybe you will talk with different people about it.  Remember sometimes you vote to make your life better and sometimes you vote to make other people’s lives better. Voting can be tricky. You have to figure out if you are choosing something you want or something you need.
 
 
 
In this conversation, I stayed away from judgment. Establishing an opinion using only the terms good or bad does not help a child gain in-depth information about a topic.  Judging others is not the goal, instead, a parent should seek to create understanding of multiple points of view.
 
In this week of ads, opinions, truths, lies, lobbying, and taglines, task yourself with becoming a reliable source.  Remember you set the stage for how your child navigates their world and makes sense of opposing opinions. 
 
I hope this article provided real life strategies to broach emotion-filled topics.  Wishing all of you patience and time to develop a powerful avenue of communication with your children.
 
Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out!
 
info@askthechildwhisperer.com
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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