Toddlers and TV: Turn Off the Tube, It’s Play Time!
Author: Melanie Denney
My preschooler was asking me to buy him an Xbox for his birthday, along with the new World of War Craft game. “No” was my reply, and immediately he started to cry and informed me that I am the meanest mom ever. Because he could not have his desired video game, he asked to watch an entire marathon of his favorite television show. My first thought was to say no, again; but the previous tantrum just about wore me out, and knowing this answer will only induce another tear-filled tantrum, my next potent thought was filled with the temptation to give in and press the power button on the remote. Does this sound familiar to anyone else?
We should think of the following scenario before we break: An elementary school had to reserve a portion of recess for structured play, due to the discovery that the children did not know how to use their own imaginations. An advisor had to mediate creative play time because the children could not decipher the difference between reality, the unrealistic video games they played, and the television shows they watched. Countless hours spent absorbed in media repressed the ability to own their imaginations, creativity, and problem solving skills.
The job of a child is to play, because playing is how they learn. So, if the child’s job is to play, it can only mean that our very important responsibility, as a parent, is to inspire and encourage our children to be creative beings. While they are young, we must assist them in the development of their imaginations. So the next time, when our darling little ones beg for one more hour of Sponge Bob, let’s resist the temptation to let our children sit inefficiently watching TV.
Inspiring our children to grow up into imaginative, problem solving, creative individuals may seem like a daunting task, but it can be rather simple. Here are a few ideas to try, that incorporate these qualities:
- Paint your child’s room with chalkboard paint. Enjoy and encourage the drawing of pictures, writing stories, and inspiring words. They’ll go to sleep every night surrounded in their masterpiece.
- Take a walk to the play ground, but first draw a map of your area. Have your child decide and color in the way you will take to get there.
- Turn on the music and simply dance and sing. Make up new words to favorite songs.
- Read books. Instead of finishing it, have your children make up the ending. Have them create an entire story based off the pictures. This is a great way to exercise originality, imagination, and creative problem solving.
- Play the classic cloud game. Asking your child to tell you what things or shapes he sees in the clouds may open up endless teachable moments.
These ideas are just a few opportunities out of millions to help our children learn and develop their own imaginations and creativity. They grow up so fast. Do we really want to risk the chance of giving our child’s precious mind to too much TV and video games? I believe more playing would be beneficial, not only to them, but to us as their parents. Taking time each day to play with our children can direct them to think and learn creatively, and even allow us to get to know each other better.