Tuesday, January 25, 2011


I was interested in all the buzz around the Tiger Mom. So when I saw the article on the cover of my Time Magazine, I dove right in to read all about it. And I have to say that the article made me think.

After reading the article, I asked myself these questions:
Do I slather too much praise?
Am I too indulgent?
Am I too lazy?
And finally, what's one way that I can improve my parenting?

For that last question, I had a fast answer: the television.

Those of you who've been following the blog for a while know that I love to create teaching opportunities here at home for Kylie. Here is an example from a while back. Right before Kylie started preschool, I started getting some resistance from her. For a few months after starting her at preschool, I pulled way back on "teaching" her. I was content to let her teachers teach and let me "just be Mommy" for a while. I think it helped our relationship at that point in her development. But slowly I started putting teaching back on our agenda for our time together.

But when we weren't playing together or having a teaching moment, I have to admit that the tv was on to one of the many cartoon channels. I would turn it on to entertain her so I could peacefully fold laundry or clean the bathrooms or cook dinner. Sometimes, she would keep right on playing and the show would just be background noise. Other times, she would sit right down and watch an entire show.

And I would feel that little ping of guilt. That "Oh-oh, that's not good" moment.

So after reading the article, Karen and I had a talk about appropriate tv time. It's interesting because we can't really rely on our own experience as children. Our parents (who did a great job raising us!) didn't have 24/7 cartoon channels and computer games and iphones to contend with. But we do.

So after a wonderful conversation (where I again marvel at how Kylie has two parents who will spend hours talking about a topic like tv time for children because we care so dang much), Karen and I decided to PULL OUT THE TV FROM THE TOY ROOM where Kylie plays.

We are on day two of it being gone. And Kylie has adjusted beautifully.

The only difference is that she wants more of me. Which is what I figured would happen. So we are reading together more, coloring more, playing with play doh and fusion beads. And I'm teaching more- more math with her abacus, more matching games and so forth. She's completely happy. I'm the one adjusting back to being needed so much.

She has two "free play" time for 30 minutes. Once when we first get home and again when I'm cooking supper. Free play means that Mommy is busy and can't play therefore Kylie needs to play by herself. Otherwise, from 12:30 - 4:30, I'm hers.

It's hard to know how much to give. I have some friends who tell me they rarely play with their kids the way that I play with Kylie. Other friends play (and give their kiddos their undivided attention) more that I do. It's hard to find the correct balance.

But I'm pleased with our tv decision. Kylie has access to my iPhone to play preschool apps from when she wakes up until breakfast. She can watch a tv show when we are in the car. And we watch one 15 minute show on our only television in our living room before her nighttime bath. We always watch that show together on the couch as a family.

This feels better. Healthier. Less lazy. We'll see how it goes.



Louise said...

Okay, I'm and auntie but not a parent so my words may not have much credence. I am, however, a high school teacher so I have a lot of experience with kids. This is purely from classroom observation and not from parental experience. This is certainly not an official, scientific study but, after 15 years in high school, I've noticed that the kids that I teach who are the "good", well-adjusted teenagers are those who:

- have parents who are parents and not their friends
- have dinner as a family and talk about their day as a family (ironically, these kids have better relationships with their parents than do parents who are "best friends" with their kids)
- have parents who don't do homework with their kids but are visible and available when they are doing it
- attend every parent-teacher conference, together (why is this so rare?)
- do things together as a family
- read, a lot
- get out and be active, a lot

From your blog, it is clear that you are doing a fabulous job. The fact that you are willing to talk about tv for a whole evening speaks to who you are as a parent. Fast forward 10-12 years, I'd love to have your teenager in my class. Keep on doing what you are doing. Seriously.

Shannon said...

Our oldest just turned four and he started junior kindergarten in September. We noticed a huge decrease in the amount of TV he wanted to watch compared to when he was home all day. He's in daycare on his off-school days and there really just isn't any time for TV. He's exhausted in the evenings so we have dinner, play for a while, and he's in bed by 7:00 or so. Also, since he's out all day, he's much more likely to want to play with his toys and spend time with us than watch TV. So it just naturally happened but I was concerned about how much TV he was watching before that and had started wondering what to do about it. Then I didn't have to do anything.

I don't really have anything against TV - the kids' shows teach a lot and we spend nice family time together watching shows. But I agree there should be a limit and sometimes we don't realize how much they're watching until we stop to think about it.

Now that he's not watching it much, it's nice to be able to recognize on some days that he's *really* exhausted and that relaxing in front of the TV for a while is actually exactly what he needs.

A+K said...

How lucky Kylie is to have such caring and concerned parents. You are with her, with 1:1 attention, for FOUR FULL hours. That in itself is amazing. In 20 years, she will remember this. I have distinct memories of "playing" with my mom as she did her normal day-to-day tasks. My favorite? When she sat down to pay bills, she gave me all the extra pages and some envelopes and I would pay bills too. I very clearly remember having such a great time with her. I can practically guarantee that Kylie will recall this special time with you in the years to come. What a gift you are giving her!

Alayna said...

You guys are such thoughtful parents and Kylie is lucky to have you! TV must be in the air tonight, because I just blogged about it, too. Sounds like a really good decision to take the tv out of her playroom. And, good for you for spending so much time focusing on her. That's something I really struggle with, so it's good to have you as my inspiration!

Stacey said...

I think you're doing a great job. I use tv when I need to get things done and want the kids distracted. Sometimes I don't have to and they play. But we use it primarily in the morning when I have to get ready and they're just waking up--they watch Diego, Dora or Cat in the Hat. We PVR our favourites. I think tv isn't evil but too much is not good either. I think if you don't give your child your undivided attention every minute, you're doing great because you need them to be a bit independent and know how to play alone. It's necessary for them and you!!

Michelle said...

A few months ago, after a very similar conversation, my partner and I decided to get rid of our television service all together. Now we use Netflix, but only on a very limited basis. We have noticed a huge decrease in whining about watching tv from our 7.5 and 4.5 year olds. Getting dinner made was hard at first, but we have come up with some great limited adult intervention activities--some that even incorporate the 1 year old. Making dinner w/o a baby attached to my lower leg is heaven! :) A bonus is that I am more productive in the evenings because I don't have the easy choice of plopping myself down to watch "just one show". I'm glad to hear you are just as happy with your decision.

Teaberry said...

I also got that Time magazine, but I have yet to read the article. I did, however, see her in an interview (on TV!) with Joy Behar (I think?) and I found her to be a little harsh. Especially when she said she reprimanded her little kids for not making her "good enough" birthday cards.

However, I do think that a lot of what you've gotten out of her ideas are great... I was nodding my head in recognition when you mentioned the 24 hour cartoon channels: Guilty of that here, too... Even though he doesn't really pay attention to it much (he does watch a Baby Einstein video rather attentively, though) I think it's time we turn it off as background noise, too.

So... from today on, when it's playtime, we are going to use the TV for the music channels it offers. At daycare they play classical music all day, so that's what we'll do at home. I think he really loves it!

One thing that we do that I'm very proud of is read. I know you do this with Kylie, too... Lucas LOVES his books, and always pulls them down to be read to. He has been turning the page since he was about 7 months old!

I will still let him watch his B.E DVDs, though, as sometimes that really is the only chance I get to do some things around the house-- laundry, cook, etc. He watches one a day, and I think that's okay still.

I always admire how dedicated you two are to Kylie!

E and M, jumpingoutoftrees said...

M and I are both educators.

When I am home all day with EG I run it like a school. 20-30 minutes blocks of activities (all activities except TV may run longer if she is having a good time):

outside time
playing with toys
playing with mama
playing by herself
one 20 minute show in the morning
one 30 minute show right before bed

When I cook dinner she makes "pepper soup" -- water, cups, spoons and pepper. She will often just go off and play when I am cooking for cleaning in the kitchen.

I think the key is having a plan of activities and including TV and small breaks for you and the babe. I can't take playing with a toddler for 4 hours -- makes me nuts.

I know my children. said...

I already booked this book to really know what this Tiger mum is doing. In the end, what matters is what kind of person we are raising. More than children with 10 out of 10 on their report, or being the top person on music on their class, or being the best athletes, I really hope that the education that we're giving them make them better citizens, more tolerant, and incapable of committing atrocities and injustice against other people and that they will also stand up against this kind of thing.
Thanks and God bless you all!:D

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