Anxiety is mounting while the country waits for the official results of the 2020 election. In this unique pandemic year, the very contentious and now unresolved election has raised everyone’s stress levels. Since the topic is on everyone’s mind, there can be no doubt that election anxiety has affected our children as well. Regardless which side of the debate you land on, it is likely that you have been discussing the election in your home.
In the days before the election, the American Psychological Association (APA) conducted a “Stress in America” Harris poll that was set up to gauge stress levels. The results showed that the majority of Americans (68 %, in fact) reported feeling a significant amount of stress about the presidential race. This stress was felt across party lines. It is uncertain how much the stress of the ongoing pandemic has contributed to our anxiety, but we do know that the hotly debated and oftentimes nasty election has affected many people.
Results Of Election Stress On Kids
With so many adults talking about the election unknowns, we are sure that their distress and fear is trickling down to their children. Young children likely won’t understand the complications that have developed, but kids do pick up on their parent’s stress even when parents try to shield them.
Older children and teens who do understand the election process may have become victims of bullying after peers took sides. Even if they haven’t been harassed, they have likely felt some loss of control or may have had arguments with peers who fall on the opposite side politically.
How To Help Kids Cope With The 2020 Election Anxiety
The first thing to do when helping your child through both election stress and the pandemic anxiety is to give them a safe outlet for their fears. Make sure they know that it is normal to feel distress when things are out of our control. Tell them it is okay to ask questions or to talk about their emotions.
You will also want to limit your news consumption as well as that of your children. The same goes for social media exposure during troubling times. When we binge on news reports about election recounts or debates about the outcome, it keeps emotions running high.
Instead, try to do something together as a family. Pull out the family board games, take a walk, work on holiday crafts, visit a park, or engage your children in other activities that they enjoy. The point is to take care of yourself and your children’s mental health first.
In some ways this distress can also have some positive aspects to it. By teaching your children to respect the opinions and political parties of others, the debate becomes a life lesson. Help them understand that it is okay for people to have different beliefs since we all have come from different backgrounds and experiences. Tolerance for another viewpoint does not mean they have to agree with it.
In addition, when the winning candidate is officially declared, your reaction can also be a life lesson for your kids. Showing them how to be gracious if your candidate won or how to respectfully accept defeat and disappointment if they didn’t teaches kids how to work towards a kinder world going forward.
Helping Children With Anxiety
For more information about how our child psychologists can help your child deal with election anxiety, contact the Children’s Center for Psychiatry Psychology and Related Services in Delray Beach, Florida or call us today at (561) 223-6568.