How to Teach Kids to Navigate This Political Climate

Remember the old adage “children live what they learn”. Ah so true.

I have spent my life’s work teaching and learning emotional development and how to program the mind for success and mental health. I have been blessed to share my knowledge with others, and to learn from others as well.

So here is my first blog in a series of many to come. The content will always be applicable to real life challenges, and take a how to approach so that you leave with hands on tools. Here is our first topic.

How to teach our children to navigate this political climate.

The behavior we show our children is really about us, our goals, our values, our beliefs. We must check them carefully because we are our children’s biggest teachers by what we say and do. Children are programmed by the 5 senses; what they hear, see, taste, smell, and feel. So be careful what you put out there.

Our country has become a big, open festering wound. The current political climate has shown us everyone’s feelings being poured out on the table, and those open feelings, wounds, are further aggravated by salt being poured into them every day.

People who engage in spiritual practices and mindfulness techniques usually don’t engage in the salt throwing into wounds because they see it as non-productive. They are teaching to rise to higher levels of thought. We will discuss this later.

Hate, fear, and angry rants only perpetuate more of the same and convey very bad messages to children.

Kids today are hearing everything. They hear too much mis-information, hate, anger, bullying and dirt slinging.  Since kids live what they learn, they learn to mirror these behaviors. There should be no reward for this on either side.

Kids are repeating hateful comments they have heard from parents and friends. They don’t like another because he or she is termed a “trump supporter”, or a democrat lier.

We can blame this on candidates, but here is the deal. If you repeat the hate, you too are guilty of promoting hate. I write this on MLK day thinking of what made him great. That was his ability to lead in a non-violent way to the advancement of civil rights.

We want to teach children by our words and actions important lessons in life. Some may define that as aggressively sticking up to anyone opposed to their point of view, condemning them openly. I suggest these rants on both sides are ineffective and destructive.

They teach nothing. Here are techniques to help your kids develop into healthy people, that carry qualities that will help them in our challenging world.

  1. Model understanding and respect, even for those with opposing views.
  2. Understand that when you mirror self-righteousness and ugly rants condemning others on the campaign trail, you tell your kids it’s ok to become obsessed with anger, hate, and that yelling and ranting is ok.
  3. When you engage in angry rants, criticism and intolerance it encourages kids to be aggressive and act like a bully.
  4. Teach acceptance and tolerance, and teach kids to understand others and why they may think differently. Unless your kids grow up in a bubble, they will need to accept others and understand differences to get along in the world, and also to understand what motivates people’s behavior.
  5. Don’t let aggression and hate overpower acceptance, understanding and tolerance.
  6. Teach empathy. True empathy means you learn to feel for all human beings.
  7. Use coaching techniques with your kids by asking them questions. For example, ask: 1. Why do you like this candidate? 2. What do others think? 3. What do you think about this?
  8. Ask questions, don’t tell kids what to believe. Let them develop their own skills. Let them find answers within.
  9. Share why you believe what you do based on your values and beliefs, and let them know others may think differently and why. Is it because they are horrible people or just learned differently? Educate.
  10. Encourage children to listen to step back to understand others point of view. They can still have their own beliefs, but listening to others is an invaluable skill in life for success.
  11. Many in this climate react without proof. Let kids know to do their research. Don’t react from hearsay.
  12. Seize opportunities to teach about the political system, how it works, and why people win or lose. Educate.
  13. And mostly teach empathy. Teach kids to have tolerance for others Not just for political leaders but for all people.

With these lessons and learnings kids will grow up with emotional awareness, become better thinkers, and more well-rounded human beings.

Remember they are the leaders of tomorrow.

Photo by Caleb Jones on Unsplash