How to Talk to Your Kids About Trump

Managing Post Election Stress Disorder

This morning when I was on the train I saw a worried look in the eyes a white woman.  I could see the pain in her eyes and just for a split second, I felt her fear.

Then I glanced down.

I saw her holding the hands of her children, a girl and a boy with beautiful brown skin. And I understood.

Since the election, there has been collective experience of shock.  The results have surprised both Trump supporters and his rivals.   None of the polls predicted this.  The speed of the change is jarring, which is adding to the collective anxiety.

I am a clinical psychologist.  Every patient I have seen since the election has come to me expressing fear and dread about the immanent Trump Presidency.  I have told them what I will tell you: Things are never as good as you hope, nor as bad as you fear they will be. It will be alright.  The the only way things get better is if we appeal to our higher nature and engage with one another.

Believe it or not, this election is an opportunity for all of us to rise up and be better.  This is the time for leadership at every level: federal, state, local, community and family.  As parents your child’s safety and well being is job #1.  Here are a few suggestions about how to help your children use this election to grow into happy, healthy and thoughtful adults:

1. Talk to Your Children. Talk to your children at whatever level they can understand. Tell them how you feel about the election results. Whether you welcome President Elect Trump with open arms or your dislike him, he will be the next president of the United States and he will do his best to help lead this country.

2. Encourage respect. Your children are invariably going to encounter other kids who think differently from them.  Encourage them to respect that everyone sees things differently and that diversity is a strength and what has made our country great.

3. Encourage Dialogue.  It is only through spending time with one another that we build trust, empathy and understanding.  Encourage your kids to try to understand the views of people who think in ways that are counter to yours or theirs.

4. Prioritize Physical and Emotional Safety.  If your children don’t feel safe, than they are not safe.  The experience of intolerance can lead to many emotional problems down the line. If your children tell you that they are feeling disrespected or unsafe in any environment, listen to them.  Take them out of the situation first, then talk to them about what is making them feel that way then insert yourself into the situation and talk to those in positions of power for help.  You are the parent.  You are in charge.  Your child’s safety is your primary directive.

Never forget: It is only through adversity that we improve.  Let’s model this for our children.

This article was originally published on Psychology Today

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