Kids pick up on their parents’ anxiety. And for some who didn’t support President-elect Donald Trump, reassuring nervous children can be a challenge.
As an African-American Muslim, Chakia Brown of Philadelphia felt targeted by the rhetoric Trump used throughout his campaign.
When news of his election hit, she saw it affecting her 10-year-old daughter, Aurie.
“There were just silent tears immediately, and immediate concern for our safety as Muslims,” Brown said.
Brown tried to reassure her daughter, explaining that the government has checks and balances and no one person has unlimited power. Brown also made sure to keep it together in front of her little girl.
Pediatric psychologist Nicole Quinlan said that was just the right approach to take with anxious kids.
“Kids look to adults to protect them, and kids look to adults for their cues as to what they should be feeling,” she said.
So what would she advise a disappointed Hillary Clinton supporter whose child wants answers?
“To be open and talk about — at a developmentally appropriate level — what it is you’re feeling and how you are going to be able to handle that,” she explained.
For Jessica Drass of Marlton, New Jersey, that advice was spot on for her 4-year-old son, CJ.
“I said, ‘Mommy’s a little sad, because Hillary didn’t win,” she said. “And he just kind of stood there with this shock on his face. And then he said, ‘OK, well Donald Trump is the president, and I will follow him.”‘
Drass said her son ended up reassuring her.
On the other hand, Quinlan said, the election results can be a teachable moment for parents who supported Trump — and whose kids don’t understand why their friends are nervous.
“Parents can use this as an opportunity to help children try to understand how others’ situations are different than their own, and they experience and feel different things because of that,” she said.