How Do You Explain Democrats Vs Republicans To A Child?

child with a puzzled look

There are some difficult conversations to have with your child along the way and anything to do with politics can be challenging for many of us. While these chats may not come easy, it is important to help your child navigate the world and develop an understanding of the systems that govern us. Let’s start with how to explain Democrats versus Republicans to a child. We will look at what each party believes and discuss ways to help children make sense of the parties’ core beliefs.

What is the difference between Democrats and Republicans?

The Democrats and Republicans are the two main political parties in the United States of America. The main difference between the Democrats and Republicans is that the Democrats believe the government should be more hands on to support its people, whereas the Republicans believe less government intervention is best for the country at large. Within each party there are various opinions on these core issues, but there are some things on which most politicians in each party agree upon.

What does the Democrat and Republican party believe?

Here’s a quick summary of the some of the main beliefs of both parties.

Overall Philosophy

Democrats are seen to be more liberal in their views and actions. Republicans tend to be more conservative and lean towards the right.


On one hand, Democrats believe in higher minimum wages and taxes that increase as wages do. They support more government regulation of the economy overall. On the other hand, Republicans advocate for lower taxes for all and very little government intervention in the economy. They believe that wages and the cost of living should be set by the free market.

Social Issues

Democrats are largely in favour of communities working together to support one another and social responsibility. They believe we are all in it together. Republicans also value community but put a strong emphasis on individual rights and justice.

Stance on Major Issues

Democrats have voted in favor of health care access for all, abortion rights and gun control efforts. They also largely oppose the death penalty and have backed gay marriage rights. Conversely, the Republican party generally supports private health care, flexible gun rights and the death penalty. Many members of the party oppose gay marriage and open access to abortion.

Finally, while both parties have strong support for the military, the Democrats believe the United States should have a smaller military presence and investment. The Republicans tend to support increased military spending and presence.

How do you explain Democrats vs Republicans to a child?

It is not easy to explain the difference between Democrats and Republicans to a child because so many of the issues each party stands for are tricky to discuss. The first thing to consider is how old the child you are talking to is and what they already know. Ask them if they have heard of the Democrats and Republicans and if so, do they know what they do and what they stand for?

You may find that even young children have heard the names of the parties and might even know some famous names such as Joe Biden and Donald Trump. Most children know who the president is and understand that they are in charge of making decisions for the country.

Based on the age of the child you are talking to will depend on what you talk about next. It’s important to have an age appropriate conversation about this topic. Of course, all children are developmentally different and will process information at their own level. Use your best judgement and listen to their needs.

Let’s break it down by age range and list some talking points as a guide for your conversations:

Age 3-5

  • Talk about the different colours of the parties. Democrats are blue and Republicans use red.
  • Show them pictures of the animals that each party uses as a symbol. There is a donkey for the Democrats and an elephant for the Republicans.
  • Let them know that the people in these groups make decisions about their town and country. These decisions can be about building a new park or road and how many teachers will work at the school. Choose things that they can relate to and understand.

Age 6-9

  • Explain that the Democrats and Republicans have different views on things. Give them an example to think about such as how their school is organised. This will help them think about different ways of doing things and the decisions that have to be made to make sure a school can run. Ideas to talk about could be how many buses are there? Who works at the school and what topics do they teach?
  • Next zoom out to talk about the bigger picture and the kinds of things that need to be decided. Examples are how to run hospitals and fix the roads. Let them know that there are different ideas for how to pay for and organise the things we all need.


  • Build on the talking points and explain what taxes are, who pays them and where the money goes. Let them know that the Democrats and Republicans have different views on this. Then bring up other issues that your child is ready to talk about.

This is by no means a one-fits-all guide to talking about the Democrats versus Republicans and each child will have their own level of understanding. Follow their lead as well as your gut for what they are ready to comprehend.

Are there some simple analogies so a child can understand?

Start small with some simple analogies that your child can understand based on their age and awareness of how the parties work. Here are some ideas that may work for you and your child:

  • Use the playground as an example and ask them if they prefer to go high on the swing or stay low. Prompt them to think about what others might enjoy and how their view might be different to their own. This works just as well when talking about a food they love or dislike too.
  • If your child gets some kind of pocket money or an allowance you can use that to think about spending and making decisions about what to buy. You can relate this to spending money on services like health care or education. Explain that the Democrats and Republicans have different ideas on how to pay for these services.
  • Talk to your child about how your family runs on a day to day basis. Use an example such as when you choose a game to play together and how that is a decision you all need to make together. Compare that to an individual decision they have to make like when to go to the bathroom or how much to eat. Bring that back to the Republicans and Democrats and talk about how they make choices for the people who live in the United States.
how do you explain democrats vs republicans to a child?

How do you prepare for the conversation?

Sometimes there isn’t any time to prepare for the conversation because it often comes up when children overhear something in the moment. If you feel as though you aren’t ready, let them know you will talk about it soon and hold to that promise. In the meantime, spend some time researching what you will say. Ask your child where they heard about the Democrats and Republicans and find out what they already know. Use this information as a jumping off point.

Remind your child that even though we all have different ideas and ways of thinking, we need to work together to live well together. These are not easy conversations and you may be asked difficult questions. It’s okay to tell your child that you don’t know something and that you will try to find out the answer.

When it comes to talking about difficult topics such as gun control or abortion, that you may find tough to cover with children, follow your gut and their lead based on their age and understanding. Save topics that might be best for when they are older or if you are asked a direct question about a tricky issue keep your answer simple. Take your time and remember you can always revisit these discussions later.