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Talking to Kids about Voting

Talking to Kids about Voting
Posted on October 24, 2018 by CHS

Over the next month there will be a lot of media coverage and ads about the upcoming midterm elections on November 6. Some children may have questions about the electoral process, the campaigns, or items on the ballot. Talking to children about these complicated topics can be difficult; however, it is important to instill in our children the importance of participating in the democratic process and how to respectfully exercise their rights. The United States ranks number 139 out of 172 countries in voter participation. Just 37% of eligible voters participated in the 2014 midterm election. When students participate in mock elections at school, go to the polls with their parents, or do other activities to encourage voting, they are more likely to be regular voters as adults.

Younger children may not realize that they make many choices every day. You can introduce your preschooler to the concept of voting by arranging family votes at home for things like dinner choices or their favorite game. You can even make ballots to teach children about the process. Although not everyone will be happy with the outcome, this can also be an important teachable moment for children to learn about civility. For example, you can ask them:

  • What do you like about the winning meal, story, or activity?
  • Why do you think other people voted for a different meal, story, or activity?
  • How would you feel if your idea was picked? Explain that someone else in the family gets to feel excited because their idea won the vote. 

The following resources are available to help parents and educators teach children about voting.

  • PBS Parents: This site has a list of common questions children have about voting and some suggested responses. Some of the questions include:
    • What is voting?
    • Who can vote?
    • Why can't kids vote?
    • Why should people vote?
    • Can I become president?
    • How can kids get involved in the election?
  • Nemours, a nonprofit pediatric health system, also offers some suggestions for talking to your kids about elections, by staying positive, reassuring, and offering them ways to get involved. For more, visit: https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/voting-banner.html
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