The following question came into our office and I think this is the best venue for a response.
My question is what if your wife does not share the same thoughts of watching tv and reading. What do you do?
Also if you have young children who watch tv but sometimes it’s difficult not to allow them especially if you are busy doing other things such work, studying. How do you balance things?
Because TV watching is a relatively unemotional topic, it is a wonderful opportunity for a couple to use to learn how to discuss conflicting ideas with affection and respect. Start by acknowledging your common ground. Both of you love your children and want the best for them. Once you recognize that, you can explore together the potential benefits and/or harms of TV (or video or technology) time. You are no longer in opposition to each other; you are on the same team.
Share with each other articles and/or books presenting different sides of the issue. There is physiological evidence on what watching TV does to children’s brains. Educate yourselves together. Discuss the cultural views that your children will acquire through commercials as well as through programs and ask if these are ones you want in your house. You may find that learning more is enough to change one of your points of view.
I imagine that your disagreement partially hinges on your second question. We are busy and TV certainly provides an easy way to keep kids sitting in one place quietly. The problem is that this is a temporary solution that can produce long-term difficulties.
What do I mean? You have probably heard about the concept of an “emotional bank.” This is based on the idea that interactions work more smoothly when positive comments and actions far outnumber negative ones. For example, if your children are in school, make a point of letting a teacher know when an assignment is clever and enjoyable, when the book chosen as a classroom read-aloud is one you love, or about the days your child comes home brimming with excitement. Should there be a time when you have a complaint, a teacher who has received approbation from you will be much more willing to listen to what is wrong. This concept is true in all relationships. Recognizing the good is a powerful tool.
I think that, similarly, there is an “imagination bank”. For every activity that stifles imagination or puts it on ice, there should be numerous activities that encourage creativity. Watching TV is a passive activity. The more TV children watch, the less capable they become of entertaining themselves. The less capable of entertaining themselves they become, the greater the urge to resort to TV to keep them quiet. The vicious cycle continues. By the way, this is true whether or not the shows are of positive, negative or neutral value.
This means that while TV can give peace and quiet, it is somewhat like taking a sleeping pill rather than acquiring habits that lead to a good night’s sleep. Eventually, the dose needs to be increased and, in the process, you may be harming your body. Some of the studies you should read together show how children can be more agitated and harder to manage after they have been watching TV. Forewarned is forearmed.
So what is a parent to do when they need quiet time? I hope to follow up next week with suggestions.