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3 Tips for Teaching Kids About Politics and Civic Duty


3 Tips for Teaching Kids About Politics and Civic Duty

Aliska A. is shocked by how ignorant some 15-year-olds in her daughter’s class are about elections, especially because they'll reach voting age in a few years. "I'm by no means a politics and current affairs 'junkie' myself, but believe that it's important that everyone have some basic knowledge about what's happening in their society," says this Circle of Moms member.

I consider it my job to teach my children about responsibility, and like Aliska, to me this includes learning about the importance of voting and what it means to be responsible citizens.

Circle of Moms member Jeri feels the same, and is looking for ideas on how to teach her children about civic duty and the importance of being involved in the community.

With the 2012 fall elections around the corner, it can be fun to get your children interested in voting. Here, Circle of Moms members offer three tips for piquing your child’s interest in the campaigns and in their civic duty, regardless of your political leanings.

1. Demonstrate Patriotism

One of the best ways to teach your child how to be a responsible citizen is to walk the talk, say Circle of Moms members Penelope W. and a member who calls herself "Mock and Daisy." If you want your children to be patriotic, then it’s important to demonstrate patriotism, explains the latter. She talks to her kids about the ways in which the United States is special, and also holds her children’s teachers accountable "[by] asking them questions about how they teach patriotism in class." Penelope is another mom who tried to lead by example, taking care to explain her activism to her children and talk about why it’s important.

Another Circle of Moms member ("Blue Milk") believes that being politically minded will become second-nature to children who can listen to their parents discuss politics over dinner, or go with their parents to vote and to attend election parties. "They learn by way of being around it, by being around us, by being under-foot," she says. “I hope civic duty is something my children are learning simply by enjoying being a part of their community."

 

2. Take Them With You When You Vote

Several Circle of Moms members say the easiest ways to show your child how to be civic-minded is to take them with you when you vote. "I always take my children into the voting booth with me. I want them to see what it’s like to be a part of the process of government,” explains Kira D. "I want them to share my excitement at the privilege of choosing our leaders and representatives. I also teach them accountability: holding others and themselves accountable for what they say, promise and do. I think that as they grow, that sense of accountability will translate to what they expect from their politicians and their government.”

Karen T. agrees, saying that she began bringing her son to the polling place with her from the time he was two months old, so he grew up watching the voting process in the voting booth. "I always took the opportunity to talk about civic duty to our community and citizen activism," she says. Karen also adds that now that her son is voting age himself, he loses the right to complain if he doesn’t vote.

Avital N.’s son has also always accompanied her on voting days. Now that he’s older, she talks about the various issues being voted upon, and makes sure he’s aware of the key players in each big election. Avital makes sure to explain referendum issues in a way he can understand, because she feels it's important that he has some idea of how the city he lives in operates. "My goal is to get him excited and motivated when it comes to politics, so that when he's old enough to vote he'll take the matter seriously and encourage others to get out there and have their voices heard," she adds.

 

3. Talk About Politics

Moms like JL R. agree that the key to helping your kids understand their civic responsibilities and become interested in them is to talk about the topic.

JL R. believes that her six-year-old is curious about politics because she hears mom talking about politics. "She knows I find voting to be a very important part of citizenship. I have told her that it's her duty to become an informed citizen, know what's going on, and to vote when she is old enough. She finds it exciting and she asks lots and lots of questions about who I voted for, what bills are on the ballots, what party I belong to, and why. I openly answer her, and I am proud that she's so interested in voting and politics. I want her to be knowledgeable so that she will be an informed and active participant when she's an adult.”

Another form of talk — speaking up in today's society, is the civic responsibility Tanya G. wants her kids to understand the importance of, which is why she promotes and engages in healthy political discussions for and against anything that she believes. She says that she's shown her sons that you won't always agree with someone, but you can stand up for what you believe in by handling confrontation and disagreements in a way that's respectful to everyone involved. "My 22-year-old has grown his own wings and is soaring, while the six-year-old is learning by doing. [By] teaching him the responsibilities of voting and being a part of all I do, he's developing into quite the little statesman,” Tanya adds.

The bottom line, says Tami N., is that children learn best about the responsibility that each of us as Americans holds — and what a treasure that is — when they participate in the political process alongside a parent

Image Source: brianbald via Flickr/Creative Commons

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.

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