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Having post-election conversations with your children: A list of resources

Each day at The Children’s Museum, we’re reminded of the power of children to make a difference—from the history-making impact of Ryan White, Ruby Bridges, and Anne Frank, to the inspiring efforts of dozens of Power of Children Award winners over the past decade.

The Children’s Museum is a place where all children and families, no matter our differences, can learn together and from one another. Now, more than ever, is a time to build understanding and unity. If you have been challenged to find ways to discuss recent current events with the children in your life, we offer this list of resources as a starting point for discussion.

PBS Learning Media provides an article listing the "5 Habits to Heal the Heart of Democracy," by educator Parker Palmer, reiterating the importance of our country's tradition of a peaceful transfer of power. These five habits include: 

  • An understanding that we are all in this together.
  • An appreciation for valuing our differences.
  • An understanding that disagreements can be channeled productively.
  • A sense of personal voice and ability to take action.
  • A capacity to create community.

The Peace Learning Center in Indianapolis has these suggestions for moving forward..

  • Start from a place of empathy. Show your child how to build empathy with these 7 tips.
  • Remind your child that they have many potential choices. This infographic can help. 
  • Learn how to talk to your child about being an upstander, not a bystander. Being brave and finding your voice is a good place to start.
  • Help children find ways to handle their own emotions. 
    • Show your child this video of kindergarteners describing how to cope with emotion through breathing and meditation.
    • Help children discover a peaceful place within themselves by creating mind bottles.
    • Adults and children can print and color an anti-stress mandala.
    • Practice mindfulness as a family through pebble meditation.

Kids and adults can take action to build understanding and empathy for one another, while combating negative language that is harmful to their peers.

  • The Power of Children exhibit, for over 10 years, has provided a safe space for families to discuss difficult topics. Learning more about what other children have done to make a difference can inspire youth to act. You can get started by reading these “10 facts” blog posts on Ruby Bridges, Ryan White,and Anne Frank, which show that they were normal kids like you and me, who then chose to make an extraordinary impact.

  • Kid President provides light-hearted tips on "How we can disagree (without making everyone feel terrible)" in this video.

  • The Interfaith Youth Core encourages us to promote partnership over partisanship, and provides this resource for developing interfaith leadership skills.

  • Teaching Tolerance has compiled a list of resources to help children and teens recognize and respond to bias against immigrants and other prejudices.  

  • The Unity Productions Foundation offers videos about Islam and Muslims for children or teenagers to build understanding.

  • The Harvard Graduate School of Education conducted a recent study that found that a majority of students prioritized their own achievement over caring for others. In response the Harvard GSE blog, Usable Knowledge, lists five ways to foster a culture of caring and ethical thinking in our youth.

A variety of experts and community leaders have shared methods for helping children who have had anxiety, or who have been directly impacted by harmful language from their peers, following the election.   

  • PBS has age-by-age tips for noticing anxiety in children and age-appropriate ways to talk with them about difficult issues in the news.

  • Jennifer Tsappis, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, shares coping strategies for managing post-election anxiety in children, beginning with maintaining predictability in your routine.

  • Big Brothers Big Sisters lists seven ways to talk to children about the results of the election.

Resources and insight provided by Peace Learning Center, Porchia Moore (The Kaleidoscopic Museum), Edward Curtis (IUPUI Religious Studies), Modupe Labode (IUPUI Museum Studies), Big Brothers Big Sisters, the National Afterschool Association, Matthew Stach, Dr. Brandie Oliver, Alice Hoenigman Smith.