I often write about parenting and styles, approaches and being your childs’ best friend. This article to day is more for young parents and grandparents although ALL parents can certainly pick up something new. Those who have followed my articles for awhile now would notice that I really don’t understand why we are not teaching parenting 101, 201 and 301 in our schools as a regular part of the course of study. It is the single most important skill that any society needs to concern itself with. It is the one skill that will have the greatest impact on the quality of life in any community, town or city. If we want to make a difference regarding how we live and the quality of that life then lets begin by helping the next generation of parents know how to do their jobs and stop thinking it will happen by some form of osmosis.
As our children’s teachers we often approach parenting from the position of ‘what do we need to teach our children?’ when instead we need to be paying just as much attention to our kids (grandkids in some cases) and what they can teach us about who they are. Our relationship needs to be symbiotic in nature. That’s why it is so vitally important that both parents are involved in the process of parenting their kids. If Dad or Mom is no longer in the house then agreements need to be made to make that happen on a regular/consistent basis. The legal system needs to consider this instead of punishing the parents who want to be involved but can’t afford it. There needs to be some consistency in the kids learning experience. Kids learn from us too. They watch our every move and they mimic our behaviours especially when they are around their peer groups where they try out new ideas. If the adults don’t get along that well and can’t work this out then supervised visits need to happen but the child will benefit more with both parents present unless the animosity is so great that it becomes detrimental.
One of the greatest challenges facing parents, especially younger parents, is the amount of computer time or TV time they allow their kids to have each day. Much too often the ‘tube’ or the computer double up as electronic babysitters because Mom or Dad are too tired at the end of a day or dinner needs to be made or they just plain don’t feel like spending time with their kids. TV folks have got us believing that there isn’t a problem with too much TV–that it is a great learning tool and that it helps to develop learning skills and so on. There is likely some truth to that but there is also the other side which is the kids get to view all the moronic ads on TV, the violence of some of the ads and shows, the pressure to buy certain products and watching people gorge themselves with junk food with the message being–“It’s OK–go for it.”
How much tube time or computer time is enough in one day for a child. Lets say 2 hours (skill developing shows/software could be the exception like helping to develop math or reading skills). That means that Mom or Dad needs to spend about the same time playing with the kids, doing age appropriate puzzles or building something with legos or reading stories before bedtime. If you are not prepared to do these things with your kids then don’t have kids in the first place. It’s better to be selfish than it is uncaring.
So Junior can watch whatever his/her favourite show(s) are as long as they are age appropriate. I read an article awhile ago that suggested your child be given 14 tickets per week. Each ticket is valued at 1 hour of TV time or computer time and each time he/she wants to watch TV or play on the computer they hand in a ticket. They can’t ‘save up’ their tickets either. If they don’t use them that’s OK too but they can’t save them to have three hours instead of two the next day. Make a game of it like they are going to the movies and they hand in their admission ticket. They get to pick the appropriate show. If there is a family show on where everybody watches a family type show then that can happen as well but they are more a ‘treat’ then they are a regular thing otherwise there is no point. The real point is that the kids will begin to pick and choose more what they ‘spend’ their tickets on then just being entertained by some show that really has no redeeming qualities to it. The rest of the time they aren’t watching TV or playing on the computer they are entertaining themselves by using their imagination.
Apparently when kids are small their minds are the most active and process huge amounts of data that they are being subjected to. We need to be encouraging them to use their minds in order for them to continuously create new neural pathways and to strengthen the existing ones. I guess the old saying ‘use it or lose it’ really does matter especially when referring to our kids.
Anyways, that’s how I see it–all the best, Jim
Comments and questions are welcome as are other ideas. Please send this article on to friends or family–contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org OR jimcloughley.com