10 December 2010

Aspie quote of the day

12 year old Aspie to 3 year old younger brother:

"Hey buddy, want to see me defy friction?"

Then he slides across the floor in his socks.

Is TV Bad for your baby's brain

According to a just released study, exposing your baby to just 60 minutes of TV per day can cause cognitive delays.   This latest study adds more fuel to a recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics that babies under age 2 watch no TV at all.

In my opinion, based on my experience, though, as a parent of four, this is not the whole story. Yes, if you put your baby in front of the TV for much of the day, or even just a short time, and then don't spend any time engaging him in interactive play or talking to him, you are likely to see significant delays.  

However, if you let your baby watch a little TV when you need a few minutes to shower, tidy up, or just have a cup of coffee, but you spend the majority of the day playing with him and talking to him and reading books to him, I think it is unlikely that you will see any problems.

As I've said before, I'm not a doctor, so my opinion has little merit, but I have a lot of experience with this topic, so I do feel I can speak to it with some authority.  As a Navy wife and mom of four sons, including one with high functioning autism, I have used TV as a babysitter more than I'd care to admit.  But, I do engage my kids- constantly.  Like I said, I'm a Navy wife, my husband is away a lot, I've got to talk to someone!   I am kidding, of course, but the point is, that while I permit my children to watch television regularly, I really do spend a lot of time in positive interactions with them.

Though they all have watched quite a bit of TV, they've all read before their fifth birthdays.  One read at age 3 and one at age 4.  They have excellent math skills and have been able to make simple computations from very early ages.  Yes, my eldest son, who has autism, had speech delays, but cognitively, he has tested as gifted from the age of three.

The point of this post is not to say how great my kids are (though they are, of course) but to put your minds at ease.  In my opinion it is OK for little ones to have TV exposure, but you must couple the TV watching with positive interactions with your child.

Run a constant dialog with him.  If you are making dinner, tell him, "I'm taking the pasta off the shelf and now I'm going to put into this water.  The water is very hot, so we have to be careful."  etc...  For older kids, have them do their homework in kitchen while you cook so that you can have some back and forth conversation throughout the process.

It isn't hard to enrich your child's brain and you do not have to deny yourself a shower because your baby will cry.  In the "old days" we all lived close to our families.  We could depend on our parents or siblings or other extended family members to lend us a hand with our kids.  Now most of us live far from family and are basically on our own.  If we spend every waking moment personally entertaining our kids, they will never learn to be independent and find ways to entertain themselves.

I should make a point of saying that you should only let your kids watch age appropriate shows.  You can most definitely cause harm by letting them watch programs that are too mature for their psyches.  But letting your one year old watch  Ni Hao Kai Lan or your preschooler watch Super Why is not going to hurt.

Beware of visually stimulating shows with your younger kids.  Shows that have rapidly changing images and loud noises, including loud music, have been shown to lead to attention issues later.

So, when you need to get something accomplished, don't feel too bad about letting baby watch a little TV.  Put him in a safe place with the TV not too close.  Give him a toy to hold, so he is engaged in more than one way.  Then do what you need to do.  Give yourself a break. It's OK.

03 December 2010

Two Ways

Also seen  at http://deploymentdiatribes.wordpress.com/

2 Ways

I have a lot of patience. I’m not bragging, it’s just a fact. I wasn’t always this way but, long ago, I decided that it was easier to have patience with our children than to get upset again and again.

Lately, though, I find myself with less patience. I am sure it has a lot (everything) to do with the stress in our house right now. Horatio is leaving in 5 days.

Every time one of the children challenges me, lately, I find myself wanting to just put a stop to the whining or complaining or misbehaving. I don’t have the patience to wait it out.

I’ve been a bit more stern and am putting a stop to the negative behaviors quickly, but a thought occurred to me. Being tough is tiring.

The past week, and the 5 days to come, have been and will be, very stressful. It is draining to deal with everything that is going on. I realized that it would be much easier to let the kids just have what they want and get on with it.

I have up to two years of these days ahead of me. Which kids will I have at the end of the deployment? Spoiled brats who get everything they want? Or timid, well behaved kids who cower when I walk into the room?

Hopefully neither. I will make a conscious effort to be a good single mother. Keep them in line but with a soft touch.

One thing I am pretty sure of is that I'll end up with at least one of the boys sharing my bed much of the time.  The littlest one sleeps much longer when he is in bed with me.  More sleep is something I find hard to pass up.

Time will tell.