No 9 in our series ‘Using positive discipline’: TV troubles...
TV and screens should be avoided as much as possible in the first 3 years. But if they do watch then always be right there watching with them. If you have to watch everything your young child watches you will quickly think of other activities to do with your kid – out of pure boredom!
Screens are passive and computer games teach in a linear way. Ordinary play is full of every sensory experience a baby and toddler needs to learn. Your child will lose IQ and not gain essential learning if you let them be on screens all day... a bright happy child learns social behaviour faster!
Remember that although knowledge has increased vastly and that technology rules our world we still have ‘caveman brains’. Our brains have not changed much since then and we still need to learn in much the same way. And babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers will learn through play, investigating the world around them and experimenting with everything including roles and relationships...And all of this is done on a sensory level – the best learning using the most different senses all at once. So if you want your child to succeed at an adult allow large amounts of happy, slow, free play...and very, very little screen time.
Children who watch TV just before bed also often have broken sleep. Adult TV with violence and sometimes sex scenes can scare and traumatise them (even the news!). Children may emulate what they see on TV. Wrestling for example or jumping off high things. Watching this sort of thing on TV seems to break the natural understanding children have of their physical limitations and can lead to injuries.
Don’t let the TV be on all the time in the background for yourself as this will distract you and close your mind to your child’s needs. You will become irritable and grumpy when they interrupt your viewing. Then instead of behaving a patient and involved parent your behaviour will probably resemble a cut off teenagers towards your child...and be very far from applying positive discipline!