It can be difficult to escape these politically tumultuous times if even for a second these days. Adults seem to sit in a state of perpetual overwhelm while the kids are more dialed into the world than ever. Which is why I wasn’t surprised—though a little shocked—when a mother told me her five year old son recently asked: “Mom, how do you spell ‘not my president’?”
Though she was quite proud of her progressive kiddo, she was also concerned with her son’s level of knowledge and the questions he was carrying around with him. The presidential candidate most of us believed was an impossibility is now on the mind of a child in kindergarten, and even he is outraged and looking to take a stand.
The so-called “Trump Effect” has been studied all the way from the primaries to the presidency. Before Trump even won the Republican nomination, let alone the big job, the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teacher Tolerance project published findings from the campaign that stated:
[The Trump Effect] is producing an alarming level of fear and anxiety among children of color and inflaming racial and ethnic tensions in the classroom. Many students worry about being deported. Other students have been emboldened by the divisive, often juvenile rhetoric in the campaign. Teachers have noted an increase in bullying, harassment and intimidation of students whose races, religions or nationalities have been the verbal targets of candidates on the campaign trail.
Though published in April 2016, these research findings are almost mild compared to the reality we’re facing with Trump as POTUS in 2017—which makes dialogue with children all the more significant. Though he is still learning how to spell not my president, you can be rest assured that this fist pumping five year old understands that bullying people is wrong and that you shouldn’t tell lies. His confusion mostly lies in spelling, how a bad man became president and what we’re going to do about it.
For the parents, educators and other brave souls that are having these f-ed up conversations with the youth, there are recommendations emerging from psychologists to assist you. These include:
- Talking about disagreeing without being disrespectful
- Speaking with honesty
- Understanding perspectives that differ from our own
Yes, these are the antithesis of the behaviors that Trump displays on a regular basis, but skills of compassion and compromise can still have their place while you protest. But before we’re too nice to the bad man, if your kids are still having trouble spelling ‘not my president,’ try teaching them this kind-hearted mnemonic device:
Now On Twitter, May You Please Respect Everyone So It Doesn’t End Nuclear Treaties.