Big Effects From a Small Screen

From birth many children are taught, by their parents' examples and through time spent in front of the tube, that television has a lot to offer.

But how much influence should television have on your baby? The American Pediatric Association recommends that children under 2 not watch television at all.

According to experts, children who watch too much TV tend to be less interested in physical activity, often develop verbal skills more slowly and tend to be less confident in social situations. Even shows that are targeted toward young children may encourage violence, disrespect toward others and disobedience.

When you choose to turn on the television, maximize the positives and minimize the negatives by watching with your child. If you know what your baby is viewing, you can use the experience to introduce new words, encourage a love of music and teach new concepts. Be certain the television shows and videos you watch together are age appropriate and don't contain objectionable material. Limit viewing time to half an hour or less for young children, and talk with your child during the program to enhance the learning experience.

Encourage your child to move around while watching television: dance when a song comes on, recite the alphabet with the characters and clap for the fun parts. The more your child participates in learning, the more likely he is to retain new information.

For the most part, TV isn't the best way to entertain or educate your child. Try one of these ways to actively engage your child's mind and body.

  • Read together. By promoting imagination, verbal skills and an appreciation for books, children greatly benefit from hearing you read.
  • Play together. Focus on games that teach: singing nursery rhymes, playing peek-a-boo and practicing new physical and verbal skills.
  • Take a walk together. Being in the yard or strolling around the neighborhood can teach children about nature and weather. It's also a great opportunity to observe what interests your child.
  • Enjoy a hobby together. From a very young age, children get excited about doing things with their parents. Begin collecting stickers, rocks or flowers to encourage learning, creativity and togetherness.

Background Information

Journey of No Return
Sometimes as parents, we have a knee-jerk response to our kids as we're barraged by their numerous inquires and desires. Maybe it's time to stop being so negative.

When Not To Discipline
Parents should recognize when they should and shouldn't discipline their children.

When You Feel Like Calling in the SWAT Team
Are your children constantly testing you? This classic parenting advice will help you regain the upper hand.

Questions and Answers

After I spank my child, she usually wants to hug me and make up, but I continue to be cool to her for a few hours. Do you think that is right?

We'd like to be more unified in our approach, but how do we successfully move from two financial approaches to one?

How long do you think a child should be allowed to cry after being punished? Is there a limit?

I have never spanked my 3-year-old because I am afraid it will teach her to hit others and be a violent person. Do you think I am wrong?

It just seems barbaric to cause pain to a defenseless child. Is it healthy to spank him or her?

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