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Monday, November 14, 2016
Guidelines for Helping Younger Children Deal With the Election
FOR HELPING YOUNGER CHILDREN DEAL WITH THE ELECTION
Posted by Wheelock College, November 2016 Adapted from: Teaching Young Children in Violent Times (2nd
Ed.) by Diane Levin, Washington, DC: NAEYC & Cambridge, MA:Educators for Social Responsibility, 2003.
·Protect children, especially young
children, as much as possible from exposure to news--on the TV, radio or from
hearing other adults talk about it. While
it’s rarely possible to protect them fully from the news, having safety and
security predominate is still vital for healthy development so the more you can
limit it the better. The more news bout the election and people’s distress
about it that children see, the more dangerous they are likely to think that
the world is and the more scary content they will need help working out.
·Trusted adults have a vital role to play
helping children sort out what they see and hear and in helping them feel
safe.When exposed to scary news and election information,
children need to know you are there to help them in an ongoing way and that
they won’t be criticized for bringing up the issue or saying what they really
react plays a big role in determining how they think and feel, and what they
·Take your lead from what the children do
and what you know about them as individuals. Base your responses on the age, prior experiences, specific
needs, and unique concerns of individual children.
·Young children won’t
understand the election or what is going on as adults do.When they see or hear about something scary,
they often relate it to themselves and worry about their own safety. They tend
to focus on one thing at a time and the most salient aspects of what they see.Because they don't have logical causal
thinking, it's hard for them to figure out the logic of what happened and why,
or sort out what is pretend and what is real.They relate what they hear to themselves, to what is important to them,
as well as to what they already know.This can lead to misunderstandings.
·With age, children begin to
think more about what underlies an event and possible real world implications.They use
more accurate language and make logical causal connections, but still don't
understand all the meanings and can develop misunderstandings and fears.Find out the meanings behind their language
and base your responses on what they seem to know and be asking.
·Start by finding out what
children know.If a child brings up something about the
election and government in conversation, you might ask, "What have you
heard about that?" Or, “What did
·Answer questions and clear up
misconceptions that worry or confuse.You don't need to provide
the full story.Just tell children what
they seem to want to know. Don't worry about giving "right answers"
or if children have ideas that don’t agree with yours. You can calmly voice
your feelings and concerns, and reassure them about their safety.
·Support children's efforts to
use play, art, and writing to work out an understanding of scary things they
see and hear.It’s normal for children to do this in an
ongoing way; it helps them work out ideas and feelings; it shows you what they
know and worry about.Open-ended (versus
highly-structured) play materials—blocks, airplanes, emergency vehicles,
miniature people, a doctor’s kit, markers and paper—help children with this. However,
the election does not easily lend itself to working things out in play the way
some other scary events do. Some young children might find it helpful to
conduct their own election around an issue they care about.
·Be on the lookout for signs
of stress.Changes in behavior such as increased
aggression or withdrawal, difficulty separating from parents or sleeping, or
troubles with transition are all signs that additional supports are needed.
Protecting children from the media images, maintaining routines, providing
reassurance and extra hugs can help children regain equilibrium.
·Help children learn
alternatives to the harmful lessons they may be learning about violence and
prejudice. Talk about alternative ways
to deal with the negative lessons children may be learning from the election,
and words and actions of the new president.Show them how they deal with issues differently in their own lives.For example, help them look at different
points of view in conflicts. Point to positive experiences with people
different from themselves. Try to complicate their thinking rather than tell
them how to think.
·Discuss what adults are doing
to make the situation better and what children can do to help.Children can feel secure when they see adults
working to keep the world safe. And taking meaningful action steps themselves
also helps children feel more in control. Make sure they know it is the job of
adults, not children, to keep them and the world safe.
·Have regular conversations
with parents and other professionals.Work together to support each other’s efforts
to create a safe environment for children.This includes sharing information that comes up with particular
children, developing effective response strategies together, and agreeing to
protect children from unnecessary exposure to violence. Talking together can
also help adults meet their own personal needs in dealing with the violence
that surrounds us.
FOR CHILDREN OF MULTIPLE AGES
Valerie.Answer Sheet:The FrighteningEffect of ‘Trump Talk’ on America’s Schools”Washington
Post, November 6, 2016.