3 Reasons to Teach Your Children About Politics

Especially in today’s political climate, it is important to keep in touch with what your kids have learned about politics. Learning about politics teaches kids critical thinking skills and helps them think about what their place in the larger world might be. When you teach a child about political issues, it’s important to respect their intelligence. Children understand much more than some parents think they do.

1. Politics Helps Your Kids Understand Important Issues

Understanding how politics works is a skill kids can build on throughout their lives. Keeping up with the news in an age-appropriate manner helps your child understand the grown-up world while clearing up misconceptions. Some issues like gun control, LGBT rights, and government budget issues can be controversial, and adults may not want to talk about all of them with their kids. Nevertheless, it is a good idea to ask your children what their opinions are and to make sure they are working with a full set of facts in an age-appropriate manner.

Teaching a child about politics helps him or her understand the difference between fact and opinion. For example, watching a political attack ad with a child can lead to a discussion about fairness and bias. You may think that a discussion of bias would be too complicated for a child, but an older child is especially attuned to what is fair or unfair and will be able to tell you his or her reasons why.

2. Teach the Values Important to Your Family

Talking about politics with your kids can also teach them what is most important to your family. No matter what political opinions you have, it’s a great opportunity to discuss your values when a child asks a question about politics. When your children ask questions about politics, make sure you give reasons for your opinion, rather than presenting your opinions as fact.

It’s important to keep an open mind, however, and to respect your child’s difference of opinion if necessary. Being forceful about getting a child to agree with you politically can cause a lot of conflict in the house and may make your child reluctant to discuss or follow politics later in life.

Politics can also help kids understand that there is no real “black and white” distinction and that the followers of the other party are not inherently bad or stupid. This is crucial when discussing current politics, as the “us versus them” mentality is damaging and does not promote unity.

3. Teach Kids to Resolve Conflicts

Ideally, in a democracy, people with different ideas and affiliations get together to compromise and make decisions that benefit the greatest number of people in society. Talking about the democratic process is an excellent way to teach children how to resolve conflicts in their own lives.

For example, when two friends want to do two different activities and they are disagreeing over whose idea is best, they can take time to think about the good and bad qualities of each idea. Kids can learn to compromise, and also how to persuade a friend without being too forceful about it. This will help them out on the playground, in school, and carry over into adult life.

Some of the recent behavior in the public sphere has conflicted with what parents would teach as good manners. Current political issues may give your child an example of what not to do to solve problems. Ask your children what they think of this and their reasons why. Their answers will be enlightening and let you know what your kids’ personal values are.

Learning About Politics Can Help Your Child

Politics can help your child open his or her mind and understand the issues that adults face. Respect your child’s opinions and teach him or her to think critically rather than jumping to conclusions or treating people with opposite opinions like they are the enemy. As children grow, their understanding of politics grows more sophisticated. Teaching your child about politics helps you grow closer, since you will understand more about each other’s opinions and reasons for having them.

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