“No.”

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[source:  Huffington Post]

When I was a child, in the stone-aged days of cable TV, if I wanted to watch a specific show, I had to wait until the time it came on at. Once the show was over, I’d have to wait 24 hours until it came on again the next morning, unless I was lucky enough to have had my parents buy said show on a VHS to be played repeatedly. Nowadays, most young families I know don’t even have cable. With video streaming like Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu, you have all of your kid’s favorite shows, on demand, and at your finger tips.

This may solve some problems, like the ones I described from my childhood, but it also creates a slew of problems I didn’t anticipate. Now that Sophie is older and more independent, she has specific likes and dislikes, as well. The show I used to turn on for her as an infant, she now points to and says “no, no, no.” She now demands the obscure, horribly dubbed, Argentinian show, “Plim Plim,” and even after 20 minutes of that, she begins to chant “Pooh, Pooh, Pooh!”

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Because I also lack self-control when it comes to binge watching Netflix, it didn’t occur to me until later that I have the power to tell my child “no.” After cycling through about 5 different shows on both Amazon and Netflix one day, I finally told her “NO. You asked for Blues Clues, so we’re going to watch Blue’s Clues.” Further more, I was reminded that the TV can simply be shut off. She has a pile of perfectly good toys to be played with, making TV almost irrelevant.

So why such a long journey to be able to say “no”? I guess it is because, like most parents, we want to give our children all we have to offer. When they are old enough to being making more specific requests, we are excited at the prospect of their ability to communicate, form independent opinions, and have their own thoughts about the world around them. We are eager to accommodate the circumstances that nurture those three things. In my case, I felt like I was beginning to accommodate Sophie to her detriment.

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Of course it will always be a temptation to sit my child in front of a piece of technology that I know will distract her and keep her quiet. I fear for this especially as I come closer to my due date with baby #2, as I know I will almost have tunnel vision for this new baby as I try to adjust to being a mother of 2 instead of only 1. But it is my prayer that I will put the overall well-being of my child over my “need” for alone time, convenience, or any other excuse I could use to stick her in front of that TV.   Will playing with the singing picnic basket wake up the baby? Possibly, but does it foster more hand-on learning and imagination then a catalog of television shows? I say, yes.

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