Posts tagged " TV and children "

Parents Disagreeing about TV Time (Part II)

June 23rd, 2020 Posted by Practical Parenting No Comment yet

Last week, we discussed how parents can get on the same page when it comes to children watching TV/video or using technology. While I didn’t mention how important it is for parents to present a unified front, that is imperative. One of the biggest gifts parents can give children is predictability and security. When mothers and fathers enforce different rules, children are the losers. The discussions about watching TV, or any other area where mothers and fathers conflict, should not be in front of the children. Since children are equipped with X-ray eyes and hyper-sensitive hearing when they are interested in a conversation, these discussions should best take place out of the home or, at least, in a private room with relatively loud music playing (even if you are sure your children are asleep).

What can children do instead of watching TV or videos? Let’s compare this to food. What would you do if your family was accustomed to a diet of nutritionally empty snacks and fast-food main courses washed down by soda and you reached the conclusion that this wasn’t a great idea?

Here is what you would not do: You would not get up and lecture about the dangers of sugar and the importance of cruciferous vegetables. You would not insist that you could only switch to a healthier menu if it took exactly the same time and cost the same as a fast-food supper. You would not choose to make this change the same week as you have two overdue projects at work, your daughter’s best friend was moving out of town or your annoying cousins were coming to visit.

What you would do (I hope) is recognize that often the immediate reaction to making an improvement seems to make things worse. Do you want to renovate your house? Get ready for expense, dirt and noise. Do you want to get in shape? Prepare for sore muscles and aches. You get the idea.

Make a strategic plan. Pick a stretch of time when you and your wife will be more available than usual. Make time each day for playing with your children. If your children are not accustomed to imaginative and independent play, you are going to have to help ease them into this.

Invest in art supplies, games, building and construction toys, puzzles and books. Don’t overbuy—too many “things” tend to lead to boredom. You have lots of supplies already at your fingertips: empty paper towel and toilet rolls, empty matchboxes, socks without matches, etc.

If you and your wife’s imaginations could use a boost, there are thousands of ideas online as well as tons of craft books in the library. Spend time together discovering if your children enjoy board games, books on tape, building towers or having relay races. If you invest time doing these things with them now, they will grab the initiative down the road and be able to do these activities on their own.

Yes, this will make for a messier house. Establish ground rules for cleaning up after each project/game before beginning a new one. Make designated places for library books and art supplies. The time and thought the two of you put into converting your household from passive to active past-times will pay off down the road.

You mentioned “young children,” but did not designate an age. Toddlers can entertain themselves as can eight-year-olds, but obviously not for the same amount of time. Be realistic. If your children are very young, you and your wife may well have to take turns being on call and playing at any designated hour. Maybe a pre-teen or young teen-age neighbor can play with your children while you are in the house getting some work done.

I don’t think of watching TV as the equivalent of giving a child arsenic, but I do think of it as junk food. In small amounts, it is a treat. In large doses, it is harmful. I hope this discussion helps you and your wife figure out your own views on the subject.

Best,

Susan Lapin

Parents disagreeing about TV time

June 16th, 2020 Posted by Practical Parenting No Comment yet

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?

Cheers,

H

Dear H.,

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.

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