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Voting with Kids


It comes with the territory of having more than one child in the house that there will be times they will not agree on something. My husband and I have learned ways to resolve these conflicts—on many occasions we exercise our right to make most house laws and use our veto power when we see fit. However once the boys were old enough to understand consequences (around three years old), we started introducing methods like a coin toss or voting with a show of hands to decide on things like who gets cuddle time, which book is read at bedtime, who picks the video, and who sits in the “special spot” on the couch.

With all the political campaigning going on around the country, now is a great opportunity to teach your kids about voting, or if nothing else, how to say the word vote if they are just learning to speak. Although my boys are now six, they are old enough to understand how some of the basic party issues like education and environment affect whom my husband and I will vote for in the primary on Tuesday, March 4, 2008.

You can help your toddler or preschooler understand how the process works by picking simple things to vote on at home, such as choosing whether to play outside or to read a book, by a simple show of hands (it’s helpful to have an odd number but not necessary). I remember when I was volunteering at my sons’ preschool one day, the teacher asked the class who wanted to hear another story and who wanted to play outside by having the children raise their hands to vote. Although some kids were disappointed by the outcomes, it was a valuable lesson in teaching the children how voting works in a large group, and learning how to behave appropriately when you don’t always get to do what you want.

I believe kids getting involved with voting at a young age will help minimize conflicts at home among siblings and teach them greater responsibility for their actions later on. I know it’s a cliché, but our children are the future—so by showing them how what we do now matters may be good for all of us. If possible, take your kids to vote on primary day—they’ll get a kick out of the machines, seeing your neighbors, watching you vote, and chances are they will get a sticker that says “I voted today.”

More about voting:

Read Duck for President by Doreen Cronin and illustrated by Betsy Lewin

Watch You’re Not Elected, Charlie Brown, a 24-minute episode about Linus running for school president and what happens when he starts making outlandish promises.

Find out where to vote in Rhode Island by visiting the RI.gov website.

At Blue State Coffee, customers (even kids) can vote every day to support one of five causes. Read more about this unusual coffee shop.

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  • Katharine,

    For me, being Republican in a mostly democratice state, is fine, but sometimes weird. I have lots of people who are shocked that we are Republicans. I have many friends supporting Obama, but for us, Huckabee is our choice. For most, we get along just fine, but as long as you are not offensive and put down their choice, there should be no problem. I think it’s just important that we all keep in mind, that we all have what we think is best at heart, and that includes those that believe differently. The only time I have issues is when people don’t respect our choices and beliefs. I recently had to pull my son out of his afterschool program because they continued having him do yoga and chant after I asked that he not participate in it becasue it was against our religious beliefs (Christian). They were extrememly intolerant and offended that I was against yoga (which is based in the hindu religion).
    I think the signs are more of a friendly wink, with hopes to convince someone to vote for that candidate.

  • This is a great post.

    I wish the kidoinfo people could talk me through the whole candidate-sign-on-the-yard/bumper sticker thing. While I love it when I see signs for my candidate, and I like knowing that there are Candidate X supporters with me on the road, I feel like the signs can be alienating to our friends–actually, one set of parents of one of our son’s friends in particular–who don’t vote like we do. Almost like we would be leaving them out of a club. I don’t mean I’m timid about my convictions–I’m happy to talk about them–I just mean, do signs and bumper stickers ever convince another voter to rethink their choices or are they just a friendly wink to like-minded people?