Tips for talking to your kids about Donald Trump's victory

The U.S. election result has created a unique challenge: how to talk to your kids about what happened. We asked a parenting expert about things to keep in mind when initiating a conversation.

Parenting expert says it's important not to model anger and to offer kids reassurance

Tim Greenwood's four children,Tessa, Ezra, Ysabel and Sophie, went out to breakfast with their dad on Wednesday morning to talk about the election.

When he heard that Donald Trump had won the American presidential election, Newmarket father Tim Greenwood decided to take his four kids out to breakfast.

His children, who range in age from 11 to 15, were concerned about "the future of the whole world," he explained to CBC News.

"I think they heard him talking about the nuclear codes... and the way he behaves towards women," said Greenwood said of his kids.

Trump triumphed Tuesday night, even after tape surfaced of him making vulgar remarks about women — comments he famously dismissed as "locker-room talk." He also called for a ban on Muslims visiting the U.S., and a wall along the Mexican border to keep out illegal immigrants he described as "rapists" and criminals. 

So, over breakfast, Greenwood and his children debriefed. "We talked about what we can do about this, how not to feel helpless," he said on Metro Morning Wednesday.

For some parents, the U.S. election result has created a unique challenge: how to talk to your kids about what happened. 

Parenting expert Alyson Schafer spoke to CBC Toronto about things to keep in mind when initiating a conversation. Here are five tips she recommends for talking to your children about the election.

1. Know your child

"Every parent knows their child best, knows how anxious they might be," said Schafer. She advises parents to think about what their child might have heard at school, from the media, or from them, and to consider what they are developmentally able to process.

2. Correct misunderstandings

Depending on your child's age, it's easy for misunderstandings to pile up, said Schafer. For example, "even the idea of democracy needs to be separated from the idea of the Democratic party." As you talk through what they know, try to spot and clarify areas that your kids might not grasp, she says.

3. Offer reassurance

"We are the people our kids look to to know that they're safe and secure, so we need to be that reassuring voice," explained Schafer.

"It's important that our kids understand that while we're impacted by this, being such a closely related country, that what happens in the United States is different."

4. Take the high road

"Don't model anger and hatred back. Take the higher road," said Schafer.

She encourages parents to explain to their kids that there are many perspectives in the political landscape. "I would go back to the idea that different people have different ideas about how to run a country."

5. Show them things they can do

Schafer said parents can take a conversation as an opportunity to show children that there are things they can do.

"You could ask, 'Have you ever had a principal or teacher who acted this way, what did you do?'" she said. "How did you find your voice?"