GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — As the November election nears, you’ve probably started seeing a lot more campaign ads. Your kids are seeing them, too, and many may be hard to explain.
Dr. Kellen Stilwell, a fellow physician at Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services near Grand Rapids, explained children aren’t always equipped to understand the nuances and reasoning behind the messages.
“I think that we as adults might understand why one ad might say something negative about the other person, but I don’t think kids understand it in that way, so it could create a lot of confusion and stress in those situations,” Stilwell explained. “I think that the best thing that we can do as adults is to kind of control that space and if they were to see these ads, kind of discuss what’s going on.”
He added that it’s important for parents to be mindful of how kids are reacting to the ads. Make sure they know you’re always there to listen and answer questions. For difficult topics like abortion, Stilwell said that depending on their age, you may not have to get into all the details.
“For the very young ones, specifically, with regards to the Prop 3 piece, I think that … in a developmentally appropriate way, sharing what you know. So for the really young ones, (saying that) it’s about health care, and kind of leaving it at that, ’cause I think that probably would satisfy the curiosity. As they’re kind of growing and changing and becoming adults, it might become kind of a different conversation where you talk more about your own views and the nuances of what’s going on with the legislation.”
Though technology is a helpful resource, Stilwell believes the most valuable thing parents can do to protect kids is act as guardians of technology, including setting limits, and creating a safe space for its use.