You were up late last night, watching and then slowly realizing, albeit in disbelief, what the outcome of the Presidential Election would be. Now this morning, you have to tell your child news you haven’t yet fully grasped yourself.
All around Baristaville, parents, many with kids off from school, went to the polls yesterday and voted, for the first time, for a woman presidential candidate. Kids were part of the process — going on huses to canvas in swing states, wearing T-shirts and buttons, making posters, helping with bake sales. Those same kids woke up, not to a Christmas morning surprise, but instead to what one kid calls “a nightmare.”
— beets + blue cheese (@beetsbluecheese) November 8, 2016
So what do we tell the children?
Offer reassurance. Montclair mom Kristin Wald says kids need to be reassured in definite terms. Last night, she put her worried son to bed, telling him “I believe that Hillary Clinton will be the President-elect tomorrow morning. But even if she’s not, we are still the same people, we still have the same neighbors, and you still have the same school and the same friends tomorrow as today. Those things won’t change. And there are lots of really good people who will make sure that love and justice and kindness are around us and that they spread. And we will work hard for that too, no matter who is President. I promise. I love you.”
Explain resilience. Look to the words of President Obama, who tried to soothe America last night with these words “We’ve been through tough and divisive elections before and we’ve always come out stronger for it. No matter what happens, the sun will rise in the morning.” Talk to your child about difficult situations and the strength of people to overcome them and persevere.
Keep talking. Kids will have questions and will hear discussions at school and with peers that may leave them more confused or anxious. Keeping an open dialogue can help kids to process questions they have in the coming days. Let them know it’s OK to be angry, confused, scared or upset and to express those feelings to you. Letting them know they aren’t alone in feeling that way will help them to get through what will be a difficult time.