Including Your Children in Your Political Opinions
To say that this will be a tumultuous political season is an understatement. Children do not appear to be immune to the hyperbole in campaign commercials, the poison that may often occur on social media, or even emotionally intense debate among friends or relatives. What influence does this have on our children, and what can we do to assist them to stay mentally healthy?
We sought advice from Jennifer Katzenstein, Ph.D., co-director of the Center for Behavioral Health and director of psychology at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital.
During this election season, children are hearing and seeing a lot. How are they affected by this? Many children, particularly older school-age students and teens, are affected by the stress and worry they witness. Some children are in the process of gaining autonomy and moving away from concrete thinking. If they observe their parents and other caregivers in distress, they might develop long-term confusion and feelings of anguish. The goal is to get rid of the emotion. It is critical to speak with children of all ages about political concerns, various viewpoints, and how we can all work together for the common good.
Teenagers are reacting to and participating in politics in unprecedented ways. Do you have any suggestions for teen parents? It is for us to allow our teenagers to express themselves is important, but keep in mind that what they post on social media typically lasts longer than the election, and it may not accurately reflect their long-term opinions.
Should parents try to sway their children’s political opinions? Although we want to impart our values to children for them to gain knowledge to make decisions, which may include dogmas, it’s also crucial to provide them the opportunity to consider all sides of situations and acknowledge all viewpoints that they need to understand.