I along with many others have been thinking about educators and parents who may be grappling with and navigating very big, confusing, tough feelings, and questions from children about the election. (Regardless of where your own vote or community's politics are.) I would like to use this small blog space to gather & share communication tips and advice from and with parents and educators. I've begun below and will continue to add resources and anecdotes. I would love to hear and share more from you.
Please share your tips/resources/anecdotes with me at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Facebook or even on twitter @caronlevis and I'll be sharing useful things you come up with.
Caron thoughts on Communicating with Kids:
Show, Don't Hide: If you are upset this is one of those times it's not only ok, but important to let kids see you cry. Not bawl or despair, but cry & learn how to hope again.
Communicating Safety with Kids: Kids trust authenticity. We don't have to pretend we have the answer, we have to let children know we're committed to finding it.
Communicate with Your Ears: teachers and parents, remember if we don't know what to say yet, we can always listen. The kids are the ones who just might have the words, or gestures ...our job might be to give them a safe space to fill with love, ideas, and hope.
Giving Hope by Validating Complexity: You or you and your community maybe be happy about election results, yet understand many/any children may be frightened by matters this election has brought up and the fierce grown-up fighting on display. Perhaps by exploring the human ability to hold and validate a variety of emotions, you can also model hope that the world can hold and validate a variety of people and opinions, too.
Be A Curious Cat: One way to help people of all ages, engage with others who have vastly different views, is to take the physical, emotional, and mental position of curiosity. I plan to share some tools and activities in a separate post soon.
Transfer of Power: There has been a lot of talk about how the transfer of power from one President to the next will go. Kids don't get to vote; they don't have power over the election, they don't have control over so many things that effect their own lives—not even bedtime. Feeling powerless can be scary, frustrating, even depressing for children at times. Right now, they may be feeling particularly powerless: they can't vote and they can't fix the disagreements of adults. Finding ways to transfer some of our power to kids can increase hope and engagement. Kids can do a lot of things: they can write letters to government officials, they can brainstorm and hang signs encouraging peace. They may also be supported by gaining control in small things right now such as simply choosing their lunch, or the family's weekend activity.
Links to More Advice/Experiences Communicating with Kids: