While just about everyone is happy that an ugly, divisive presidential campaign has finally come to an end, not everyone is equally pleased with the outcome. That, of course, is a scenario that plays out in every election. But this was no ordinary election. At times, it was marked by hatred, anger, mockery and a host of shocking accusations. So in the aftermath of this vitriolic presidential campaign, it’s no surprise that in addition to dealing with their own feelings, many parents are grappling with what to say to their kids.
If your child is struggling with the results of this election—either because they’re not happy with the outcome or because they are dealing with fear and anxiety about what could happen next—here are some things that might help:
- The sun will come up tomorrow. While this may sound like an oversimplified, pie-in-the-sky attitude, it’s true. It’s important to help your child understand that we’re all in this together and that sometimes you need to find ways to work with the people who were against you. Reassure your child that the government has a system of checks and balances in place that prevents one person from gaining too much control.
- Be a role model. If your child senses that you are anxious, angry or fearful, he or she will quickly pick up on that behavior. Knowing that your kids are watching you, use this as an opportunity to set an example of how to move on. Keep in mind that anger is never a good option, and it doesn’t accomplish anything.
- Reaffirm your values. If you’ve taught your children to be inclusive and loving, and not to bully, judge or put down others, keep up the good work. You may want to read books that embrace these values, and continue to discuss them openly.
- Talk to your daughters. Many girls were excited about the possibility of electing the first female president. When that didn’t happen, it’s understandable that they may be experiencing disappointment as well as a sense of futility. Your job as a parent is to remind them that it is still a very real possibility—and one worth fighting for. Help your daughter realize how far we’ve come and that it’s important not to give up on the dream. Sometimes when you try, you don’t succeed, but it makes you stronger for the next time.
- Empower your kids. Discuss the political process with your children, and encourage them to get involved. What would they do if they were elected president? What would they do to influence the political process? By engaging your children in the process, you help them feel empowered to get involved and promote change.
- Do something as a family. Start by unplugging. Anxiety levels will plummet if you simply turn off the TV and take a break from social media. Instead, play some music, schedule a special family outing or simply enjoy some time outdoors. When your child sees that the sun is still shining and the world is operating much like it did before the election, it will bring a sense of calm and normalcy to the situation.