Wednesday, June 16, 2010
My take on TV and kids
The thing about Maya is that she won't just sit with her eyes glued to the television screen for hours on end. She will eventually get up and move on to doing other activities like flipping through her books or playing with Barbie, but the tv still stays on as some kind of back-up in the background...so much so that the Dora, Yo Gabba Gabba and The Backyardigans themes seem to have become the unofficial soundtrack of my stay-at-home-mom life which I've been leading for some time now...Do-Do-Dora, Do-Do-Dora....sigh...Of course I've been feeling pretty guilty lately for planting Maya in front of the tv while I would get things done around the house, so much in fact, that when the latest e-letter to which I subscribe and receive periodically from this excellent one-stop parenting guide site called The BabyCenter was on kids and television-watching, I thought, "Man, I've got to be a masochist to want to read this!!!" because I knew for sure that it was going to chastise us parents for this practice and leave me feeling sick to the stomach, but surprisingly (when I was finally able to bring myself to read the article!), it didn't. And neither did it condone parents for resorting to the habit leading one to believe that it's a matter that can be taken lightly. Rather, it acknowledged how many parents have a hard time following the American Academy of Pediatric's (which some might consider to be the authority in childcare and rearing) recommendation that kids 2 and older watch no more than one to two hours daily and that kids under 2 watch no television at all. And then the article went on to offer some practical television-watching guidelines. Fair enough. One tip was to "Watch TV with your children whenever possible." It said to try not to use the tv set as a babysitter and that just being there basically says to your child, "What you do is important to me." Now I knew that! So I immediately took this piece of advice to heart and took time out from the sink full of dirty dishes that I was washing to watch Handy Manny with Maya. It's amazing what one can learn from children's programs these days. For example, I learned that the actual term for the cool art of trimming live shrubs into decorative shapes, as of animals, etc...is T-O-P-I-A-R-Y...cool! (Again, I knew that!!!) Now that could be something to add to my bucket list, you know, try my hand at some horticulture before I die....Hey, if Edward Scissorhands was good at it then why can't I be?? Really, his sole advantage over me is that he only had scissors for hands! The only problem is that I don't own a garden with some shrubs...Oh, I know, maybe I could do the city a favor and choose a random hedge at my local park to snip away at??? Hmmm, earth to Aimee!!! The lesson in all of this? Is that while television can spark a person's imagination (as it certainly moved mine!), it can only do so if one already has a vast bank of existing knowledge to draw from, of course, knowledge gained from engaging in activities besides television-watching such as reading, romping around the backyard, etc. So I made some resolutions to take Maya to the park an extra day a week and to read her that extra story every night and just make the extra effort to turn the everyday and mundane into learning opportunites and throw in some trips to the library or zoo every now and then. Sure it might not be as convenient as tuning in to Nick Jr. for some Diego or Wonderpets nor as easy as plugging Finding Nemo or Wall-E (from which Maya can directly quote) into the DVD player especially since I'm returning to full-time work next week after a little over a year's maternity leave (I know, I've gotta be crazy!) but I know for certain that although it might involve a little sacrifice on my part, Maya, and not to forget Jaden, will both reap benefits a hundredfold in the end, it's guaranteed. Bottomline: Parents, assume your rightful position as the boss and promise to curtail the time your kids spend watching tv and try your best to make good on it!!!