Although it rolls around once in five years, the general elections are a great opportunity to teach kids how voting works and why it’s important for everyone to have a say when it comes to important issues. Besides, the issues themselves might have connections to what they’re learning at school, for example, working towards a cleaner environment, safety—both private and public, and generally campaigning for an equal and just society. Also, remember that just because you have a younger child who you think would rather play video games or an older teenager who would prefer texting friends—don’t shy away from talking politics! You could be wrong. So let’s dive in and see how we can break this down for our little ones and not-so-little-ones to understand what this mother’s voting guide entails.
1. Importance of voting
Educate your kids to recognize that elections are not simply about going to the polling booth and casting your vote and clicking that inked finger selfie. Inform them that it is a complex process, which begins from identifying the issues at stake, identifying the right candidate and then voting. Understanding the process and getting your voice heard at the right place and time is essential.
2. Prepare your children in advance
Since elections involve choosing that right candidate, as a responsible citizen you need to start researching a little bit before the actual election campaigns kick off. When you follow the candidates closely, it gives you the opportunity to monitor their work for the society and the issues that they stand for, which in turn helps you make the right choice.
Regardless, of whether or not the kids are too young to vote or vote for the first time, a parent educate them about the process and be curious about why they chose to vote. Understanding their spheres of influence—whether it’s their friends, social media or the family’s political leanings would be equally important and interesting.
4. Discuss the difference of opinions
Talking about how different sets of people can have myriad opinions is a lesson that needs to be imparted to children before they embark on the journey of being responsible citizens of the country. They need to understand that it is perfectly fine to have different thoughts and opinions on issues. Because that is exactly what a democracy is all about, each one of us can have our own viewpoint. The important message here is to respect other’s choices and decisions.
5. Ask them to be specific and detail it out
Since everyone is entitled to a difference in opinion, and since during elections opinions are sharply divided it is critical for our kids to understand that can get easily swayed by loud election slogans. They need to recognize and be clear about the issues that matter most to them.
by Udita Saklani