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Friday, March 23, 2012

TV Choices for Children

I clearly remember being very choosy about what TV shows were OK for my kids to watch. That was a while ago. My youngest is 16 now.

Overly active shows or ones with fighting made my son overly active and combative.  Mean characters transformed my sweet children into meanies. Calm shows soothed and calmed them. You get the idea. They were influenced by what they watched. I think most children are, even if it doesn't show so much outwardly in their behavior.

I'm not about to tell you which shows your kids should or shouldn't watch, but I will give you a few guidelines that might help you choose for yourself.

1. Choose shows that model the behavior you'd like to see in your child. This includes what attitudes are portrayed, how the characters dress, and the way people speak to one another.

2. Choose shows that reflect your core values. These might include honesty, respect, faith, kindness, caring for our world, or caring for the poor or elderly.

3. Choose shows that educate your child. There is so much to learn as a child! They may learn academically, spiritually, socially, how things are made, or about the world around them, just to name a few.

4. Choose a variety of shows. Let them watch some strictly for entertainment, others for education, some for social or core values.

5. Limit the amount of TV  your child watches. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that kids under 2 years old not watch any TV and that those older than 2 watch no more than 1 to 2 hours a day of quality programming. I'd recommend spending more time doing things with your kids than watching TV. Play games, go for a walk, read books, bake cookies. There are tons of things more fun than TV to do!

Finally, if your child watches something questionable, use it as a teachable moment. Saying "I don't like the way that kid talked to his friend, do you?" or "What do you think of the choice he just made?" is a good way to stimulate discussion and thought about the things they see. You can counteract negative models with correct teaching.

Have fun with your kids! TV can be a fun family activity as long as it isn't overdone. Use good judgment and explain to your kids why some shows are off limits. They will learn from your example.

Happy viewing!


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