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Can We Get our Kids to Care about the Election?

Can We Get our Kids to Care about the Election?

Chances are, if you’re a parent, grandparent or teacher, you’ve talked to the kids in your life about the upcoming election. And chances are that you have a strong opinion about who you think should be president. Even if you think you’re not being biased, kids are great at picking up on subtle clues that tune them in to what people around them are thinking.

Here are some tips about why it’s important to talk to kids about the election, how to stay as unbiased as possible, and how to get them interested in the people who may be running the country for the next four years of their lives.

Why talking to kids about the election is important

Children are fascinated with the concept of the President of the United States. They understand that he commands enormous power and respect, and often dream of holding the same position. It shouldn’t be too hard to get them interested in how a person becomes president — and the election is the easiest piece of that puzzle for kids to grasp.

1. Kids will be more likely to vote in the future if their current role models show an interest in the election and vote for the candidate they support. Just like reading and eating habits, voting habits are passed down through families. Talking to your kids about voting is the best way to ensure that they will utilize their constitutional rights when they turn eighteen.

2. The election affects them. Try to impress upon kids the fact that the president directly affects their lives through the decisions he will make about education funding, abortion and gay marriage, as well as hundreds of other less-publicized, but no less important, laws and decisions.

Keeping your opinions to yourself

No matter how young your kids are, it’s not fair to force your opinions or values about the election on them.

1. Learn enough about both candidates so that you can explain the position each of them takes on social and economic issues that your kids may ask about. Being able to compare and contrast the candidates will help kids form their own opinions.

2. Avoid generalizations or exaggerations–i.e. “Obama has been a terrible president” or “Romney hates gay people.” The last thing you want to do is set such a negative, simplistic example for political dialogue. Remaining unemotional and unbiased (at least on the surface) will help your kids to do the same.

How to get them interested

I was in third grade when Clinton was up for re-election, and we did an entire class project on presidential pets. The fact that I still remember that the Clinton family had a cat named Socks shows you how fun little details about the election can stick in kids’ minds.

1. Ask kids what they would do if they were the president. Would they make school days longer or shorter? Would teachers get paid more for doing their jobs? Would everyone be able to get married to the person they love, regardless of sex?

2. Hold a mock election in your classroom or home. Print out ballots on the computer, and have your kids vote for their favorite candidate.

Voters of the future

Remember, today’s children are tomorrow’s voters. The best thing we can do to make sure that the voice of the people is heard in the coming years is to instill a positive interest in voting and the presidency now.


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Photo: Orin Zebest via flickr

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10:42PM PDT on Oct 21, 2012

I would hope so, they need to learn from us the importance of every vote and action taken goes have an effect and without , no chance of change,

11:37AM PDT on Oct 21, 2012

I don't think getting children into politics when they don't understand it is very fair. Kids will not understand the two people, Obama and Romney are total liars

5:54PM PDT on Oct 19, 2012

I think kids might get turned off by this election. There is so much extremism, polarization of isues, and pointed lies and mislabeling. I can't get over Romney's being called a misogynist because he referred to the difficulty finding qualified women candidates, nor the term being used to label those who are against abortion. If I didn't think Obama a blight on this country's economic and other health, I wouldn't be all that thrilled to vote either.

4:56AM PDT on Oct 19, 2012

I will never forget my civics teacher saying people died so that you can vote and there are people dying to day looking for a vote so get out there and vote when your time comes, even if it is only to spoil the ballot card! I have voted ever since, and I am blessed to live in a country with a PR system so every vote counts and you get who the majority votes for. However it is not just the children that need to be encouraged the community needs to work on the adults also.

4:09AM PDT on Oct 19, 2012

Thanks for sharing.

3:32AM PDT on Oct 19, 2012

Can we get more adults interested?

12:42AM PDT on Oct 19, 2012

good advice

8:21PM PDT on Oct 18, 2012

I really don't care about voting we aren't the ones who decide who the president is it's the college.

7:26PM PDT on Oct 18, 2012

It's unfortunate that well intended topic( Voting) has lost it's luster through political corruption, faceless greedy politicians that for the most part are only interested in becoming wealthy. Be truthful, our political system is broken down, what we're experiencing today refusal to work together to form laws and run the nation as a united unit has destroyed the fibre of our strong government. Instead of falling behind the president to present a united country, they instead seek ways to under mine the President. All for political gains. To top it all now, the Supreme Court has been transformed into conservatism and no longer function as an impartial body This was proven during Bush versus Gore election. With regards to kids being indoctrinated on the voting principles of our system, this may prove to be a difficult task, that is if you can get their faces off the screens, cell phone,TV. PC, Ipod, games. This new generations are entirely different, then the rest of us. Good luck. You can't even hold a conversation with them, their attention is gluded to some form of electronic gadget.

5:06PM PDT on Oct 18, 2012

Thanks for the share!

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