The lure of quiet tots - their eyes glassy and focused, their attention riveted to a tiny screen full of color and exuberant characters cheerfully calling out for ‘Mr. Toodles’ - may seem like a heaven-sent temptation for a busy working mother like yourself. One click is all you need to send your tot off to animated land, leaving you with hours of uninterrupted personal time.
But why is TV-watching discouraged for tots? Miel Sadhwani, a preschool teacher at Brent International School and mom to Natalia, 4, notes the following reasons:
- Some cartoons made for the whole family contain the words “idiot,” “moron,” “crap,” “ass,” and “stupid.” Hardly the words you’d want to hear your child to utter. - Explosions, car chases, guns, and violent weapons abound in many cartoons today. Studies have shown that children who witness violence in TV shows tend to exhibit aggressive behavior more. - Every minute spent lounging in front of the TV is a minute lost in trying to develop fine motor skills, such as drawing and writing, and gross motor skills, such as running and jumping. - Researchers agree that children who watch television for longer hours tend to have more problems with obesity.
There are great alternatives out there to TV-watching. Check out these ideas your kids can do by themselves, leaving you free to catch up with your monthly bills.
1. Cook it up! A kiddie kitchen set is one of the best investments you can make as a mother. Children are fascinated by the endless possibilities brought upon by an empty pan and visions of their favorite snacks. Hear them humming as they cook hotdogs and eggs on a sizzling pan. Feel your heart melt as they serve you coffee while you work. Pizza is another great favorite.
Smart tip: Choose a child-friendly kitchenware set. Make sure the pieces are large enough to avoid accidentally choking on the pretend food. Watch out for toys that easily break as these may cause scratches or wounds.
2. Block city A two-storey castle with a staircase leading up to the tower. The office building where Papa works. A house with a slide, a pool, and animals wandering about. Go back to the basics and introduce your child to the simple life of olden days, when toys did not move on their own, did not talk, and did not think for themselves.
Smart tip: Choose blocks that are affordable, durable, and earth-friendly all at once. Try Ecobloks at brusselsprouts.multiply.com or any of the Plan Toys eco-products at Rustan’s.