We’ve all done it.
You wake up one morning and realize the house is a complete disaster and today, no matter WHAT is the day you will clean it.
Your child has other plans.
As soon as you start soaking the pans with the cemented-on food in them, your toddler starts crying. You give him a toy. “Play nice for Mommy!” He plays for five minutes and then is back at your feet, pulling your pants down, trying to climb into your arms.
So you decide to let him “help.” “Hold this cup for Mommy!” you say. He turns it over and dumps all the soapy water that was inside on his head. Then he takes your silverware and starts dart-throwing the forks on the floor, aiming directly for your toes.
You give up. You walk into the family room, turn on [enter favorite toddler show here] to entertain him and he is perfectly happy and occupied in front of the TV for the next 30 minutes.
Is that so wrong?
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, it could be. The recommendations from the AAP are as follows:
“Pediatricians should urge parents to avoid television viewing for children under the age of 2 years. Although certain television programs may be promoted to this age group, research on early brain development shows that babies and toddlers have a critical need for direct interactions with parents and other significant caregivers (eg, child care providers) for healthy brain growth and the development of appropriate social, emotional and cognitive skills. Therefore, exposing such young children to television programs should be discouraged.”
I started researching the effect of TV on toddlers and found multiple studies that concluded that children younger than 2 who watch TV more than an hour a day are at risk for developmental delays, aggressive behavior and obesity. The findings of a study published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine in May were eye-opening:
“We found every additional hour of TV exposure among toddlers corresponded to a future decrease in classroom engagement and success at math, increased victimization by classmates, have a more sedentary lifestyle, higher consumption of junk food and, ultimately, higher body mass index,” says lead author Dr. Linda S. Pagani, a psychosocial professor at the Universit de Montral and researcher at the Sainte-Justine University Hospital Research Center.
Yikes. This information made my mommy-guilt take one giant leap forward. My son loves his Baby Einstein DVDs, and sometimes I’ve given in and sat him in front of our TV when I just couldn’t take one more toy thrown at my shin in the shower.
So, what’s the solution? It’s hard to think that an angry tantrum my toddler is throwing on the floor because he’s mad I’m paying more attention to the laundry than to him is better for his brain and development than the TV watching he does.
What do you think about your young children watching TV? Is it a “lifesaver” in today’s world for a homemaker’s sanity? Or have you found another way to keep them occupied so you can get something done for an hour or so?
We’ve all done it.