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By Melissa Ford
"It really comes with a DVD player?" I enthused, eyes wide. My husband and I were car shopping and I desperately needed that fully-loaded vehicle equipped with a DVD and a pair of headsets. I was ecstatic! No more, “Mom, make him stop!” or “She’s touching me,” or “Are we almost there yet?”
The peace was short lived. My daughter complained of car-sickness, a headset went missing and then my kids lost interest - probably because they enjoyed fighting more.
I felt cheated. Wasn’t this DVD player suppose to bring a little peace and quiet? Give me some time to myself?
According to First United Church Nursery School teachers, Judy Steed and Susan Gittings and Director, Joan White, tuning your child into DVD players while in the car should definitely take a back seat. Raising your child isn’t about peace nor quiet; it’s about connection. With TV Tune Out (and other screens) finally here - April 3rd thru 17th - these dedicated teachers have one important message for parents:
Screen time for everyone needs to be managed.
Why? Because it takes away from other activities that support your child’s brain development and physical development such as singing songs, playing games (ones without a battery or screen), talking, listening, reading, playing outside, visiting the zoo or other museums, coloring, baking, telling jokes, gardening . . .
But, the most important piece that goes missing when our kids are zoned out in front of screens? Relationships.
Kids learn everything through relationships.
Did you know relationships teach children the critical basics they need for creating successful lives? Through relationships kids learn problem solving, communicating, eye-contact, patience, social and emotional skills, language, self-control and more. Instead of keeping the peace with screens - take that valuable time and connect with your child.
Limit screen times.
The teachers at First United Church Nursery School offer these tips to help you raise your child in a screen machine world:
- Take time to talk with your child and listen.
- Make transitions going to and from school special. Greet your child with your full attention. Put your phones down and connect with your child.
- Build your child's vocabulary and language with one-on-one time.
- Children learn eye contact through relationships so when you are conversing with your child, put your phone down and connect.
- Pay attention to your own screen usage - you are your child’s role model.
- Around town - turn off your car’s DVD and interact. For family trips, limit your DVD time. Make your trip special by creating a trip box filled with library books, games, crayons, coloring books.
- Turn off the TV before school and during meal time. Bring topics of conversation to the table and engage.
- TV and other screens can be enjoyed together. Know what internet sites your child is on. Watch TV together and discuss what you view.
Reflect on your childhood.
Thanks again to Judy Steed, Susan Gittings and Joan White for your care and support of children and their families. Their message is vital: Parents, it’s your job to limit screens. Make your relationships a priority and watch your child thrive. As these insightful teachers point out, “Sometimes we need to step back and reevaluate our priorities. Are they really serving us? Parents need to think back and remember what they loved about their childhoods. We doubt it was TV and computer time.”