Elections are what make our democracy great. Even if I disagree with my neighbor’s political opinions, we can meet at the polling place and exercise our right to vote. It makes me sad when I read that this coming Tuesday’s election is making people nervous about violence or unrest. On the contrary, we are in the midst of a historic election with incredible turnout amid a national crisis. Last week I read that, in Texas, more early votes had already been cast than in the whole 2016 vote!

For the past 6 months of lockdowns and isolation, my colleagues at the Child Mind Institute have reminded parents that giving children the opportunity to be part of something greater and make a difference is crucial to maintain mental wellness in the face of great stress. Well, that’s exactly what we do when we vote. Instead of engaging with fear and worry, I recommend that parents use this momentous election as a positive example.

You can use this opportunity to reinforce democratic values like hope and action over fear, anger and pessimism. They can do this by:

  • Showing your excitement at exercising your right to vote
  • Discussing the challenges and successes of voting this year
  • Watching the results
  • Emphasizing the importance of local races

Finally, we can tell our children about how elections are a critical part of how our democracy works — no matter who wins. While we may be disappointed, let’s expect the best. That’s a lesson our children need to learn from us.

Click here for more resources on helping children and teens through the coronavirus crisis.