There is no doubt this crazy political environment is impacting our children’s perceptions on what makes a person a leader. Time Magazine looks at how the 2016 election cycle is impacting kids’ expectations on leadership and how parents can counter what Time calls the “Three Terrible Things the Election Is Teaching Your Child.”
Among the top three “terrible things” is lesson number 1) “I can say whatever I think without regard for anyone else.” Sadly, it seems that every time we turn on the news we see a candidate in midst of a tirade of personal attacks against their opponent. Weekly, at times daily, we are exposed to discussions on what many consider racist, bigoted, vulgar and sexist language, and left to explain what it means to our children.
The Time piece, authored by Michelle Kinder, executive director of Momentous Institute in Dallas, a program dedicated to developing social emotional health in children, provides parents with insight on how to teach good behavior:
“When children see adults out of control, they learn that self-control doesn’t matter. To counter this kind of modeling, social emotional health experts teach kids that there’s a difference between reacting and responding, and that they have the power to choose. Teaching kids the basic biology of their emotions gives them a greater sense of control over powerful feelings. Even very young children can understand that when they are overly emotional, their amygdala has taken charge and that they need to breathe and focus attention before responding. If only our presidential candidates would do the same.”
I asked friends for their thoughts on what good and bad lessons the current election cycle is teaching our children. Their resonsponses were not positive.
Others commented from social media on lessons learned included:
- “Racism and corruption rules the day.” – Jéan Nicolas
- “You could even add “emotional people are easily manipulated” and “you’re better off manipulating people’s emotions to achieve what you want” and “money is the ultimate goal in life.” – Eric Inclan (NOTE: No relation)
- “A rich and powerful husband can keep you out of jail.” – Diana Arteaga
As you can imagine, reading these kinda got me depressed on the current political climate.
Yet, parents do have control of the situation. Kinder writes:
“What can parents do?
First, assume your kids are watching and taking note. Second, tell them what you find unacceptable and why. And third, expose them to different kinds of leaders and more productive, reasoned discussions. These measures can start laying more positive neural pathways so that in 20 years our kids become the leaders we’ve all been waiting for.’
Do you have good lessons, you want to share?
Focus on the important: Raise good humans.