Experts discuss talking to kids about the election


WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — No matter who you support, most agree the race to Nov. 8 hasn’t exactly taken a pretty path with the accusations, attacks and R-rated conversations.

A recent survey by the American Psychological Association suggests more than half of Americans feel stressed out over it.

“This year in particular, it’s gotten pretty nasty,” said Kelly Venatti, who talked about her concerns regarding her elementary-age son and what he’s hearing.

“We try to shield some of that but … you can’t protect them from everything,” Venatti said.

“I mean drive down the street,” said Tami Silverman, president and CEO of the Indiana Youth Institute. “[You] see the signs, hear the ads on the radio. They’re absorbing all that information.”

The Indiana Youth Institute suggests limiting what they hear — that includes what comes out of your mouth.

“Like most conversations, you should edit yourself when you talk to your kids,” Silverman said. “And you should be modeling the behavior you want.”

Silverman suggests trying to keep conversations about the issues and why you support one candidate over the other.

“Not so much downgrading the other candidates,” she said.

But experts say don’t avoid the conversation.

“They could be getting a lot of information and if we don’t talk about it, we don’t know what information they’re getting and how to help them process that,” Silverman said.

Indiana law requires schools to teach students about the election process two weeks before each general election.

Silverman said keep it civil, listen to each other, and know it’s OK to disagree.

“It’s also important that you understand and check and challenge them, and ask them: is that their opinion or are they adopting the opinion or are they adopting the opinion of their friend group of somebody else who has been talking to them?” said Silverman. “Let them know that they need to develop their own opinions and ideas based on your family values and what’s important to them. The bottom line is you’re still a family. They are a developing, evolving child that is going to go through a lot of different transitions over time. It’s OK that they’re going to have different opinions. That may be a very difficult thing for some families to understand and deal with. But it’s going to change again over time. So just be there as a loving constant support for your child, and they will develop completely appropriately.”

Click here for more resources on kids and the election from the Indiana Bar Association.