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By: Alice Ahearn*

A friend told me recently how during a past national election season, their three-year-old son had been utterly absorbed by the whole process. He accompanied his parents while campaigning, played with election posters, and announced his voting intentions to anyone who would listen.

I think this is a wonderful example of how children are more engaged with the world around them than we might sometimes assume. It doesn’t matter that this toddler was much too young to vote; what’s so interesting is that, at this early age, he was already starting to learn the lesson that we continue to discover as we grow up: that participating in elections is vital and necessary for building a better future for everyone.

Children learn very quickly; we should never underestimate their perception or understanding of their surroundings. Instead, if a child shows an interest in how society works, we should encourage and promote it. It doesn’t have to be in a complicated way; it can even be through play, as in this case. It’s endearing and charming, yes, but it’s also a crucial step in a child’s journey towards becoming a citizen who cares for others and participates fully in society.

Social issues don’t just affect adults; children feel the effects of inequality, discrimination and poverty too. And it’s in everyone’s interests that children understand that this is something that can be changed – because they’ll then be equipped with that knowledge as they grow up, and can act on it with their vote. So whether the outcome of any individual election is joyful or disheartening, encouraging your children to participate ultimately benefits everyone.

*Alice is a member of our team

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