Tuesday, January 13, 2009

TV Usage in caramama's House

I'm glad to know I'm not the only one using bribes and TV to get through the day. A few things came up yesterday about TV that I wanted to delve into further. So let's talk toddler TV!

Up until this winter, the Pumpkin probably watched a 20-30 DVD on TV every few days (as far as I know, although the nanny might have put something on also, but not often). She mostly watched Baby Signing Times (which I can't rave about enough!) or little shorts of books like Cordury Bear or Goodnight Gorilla or a Baby Einsten Nursery Rhymes. She was happy with them and the amount that she watched them.

Then came this winter, with my Seasonal Affective Disorder and the pregnancy creating crazy low levels of energy for me, while her energy levels stayed in her normal hyperdrive. Also, she started getting bored with the same DVDs. So I finally turned on Noggin (we are lucky to have extended cable) and discovered (and in some cases rediscovered) what I consider to be good quality shows that have the ability of holding the Pumpkin's attention on a station with no commercials. And thus began our foray into toddler television.

Cloud asked if I like Dora. I really do! I wasn't sure I would, but it is cute, helps language development (including teaching some spanish words) and teaches problem solving, following maps and remembering details. (Although I don't like that Dora's shirt doesn't always cover her belly. I have no idea why they wouldn't draw her shirt long enough, but her belly is always peeking out.) They go on missions that follow the same pattern every time. And there is Swiper, the fox, who tries to "swipe" or steal things, which I have been able to transfer to our real life.

When the fox tried to swipe something that Dora and Boots have, they (and the TV audience) say "Swiper, no swiping!" (as La Folle Maman mentioned yesterday). Well, the Pumpkin is very grabby and lately is into taking things and saying "mine." I know the grabbiness (with low impulse control) is part of her personality, and the "mine" is a developmental stage, but it's still frustrating. So now when she goes to grab something off the counter or take from me, I say "Pumpkin, no swiping!" I'm not sure she get's it 100%, but she does stop and think about it. And that my friends, makes it educational TV.

We watch Blue's Clues, a show I have enjoyed since babysitting days. This one also teaches problem solving, looking for things, remembering details and putting pieces together to form a larger picture. Of course it's also cute and has songs. The Pumpkin calls it "Bloos Boos" and she loves to ask "Where is Bloo doggie?" and we pretend to go looking for her behind the chair and other places.

I've also discovered Handy Manny and Diego, which are both occassional shows. She's only partially interested in Diego because of the animals, but I think most of it goes over her head. Handy Manny, however, is one she enjoys. She also likes Wubbzy, which is cute and entertaining.

My favorite is Toot and Puddle because they go to different cities on adventures and teach about other places and cultures. Londo's favorite is Oswald. I'm not sure why... I should ask him.

With this list, it sounds like we watch hours of TV a day, which is not always true. But we do turn it on when we need a break or need to calm her down from a tantrum and nothing else works. Or sometimes so I can clip her nails or put her clothes on. If any of these shows is on, we will let her watch them. Dora and Blue's Clues used to come on right as Londo was making dinner and I'd get home from work and need some down time, so that's why she's probably watched those the most. (I think they've changed the scheduling for the new year, but I'm not positive.)

The study that Cloud talked about in her comment yesterday is really interesting, and makes me feel better. It basically says that TV is not the devil and can actually help pre-schoolers learn skills (these are completely my words, and I must fess up that I didn't finish reading the study because it's long and I haven't had time to finish it). But what I've noticed is that what the Pumpkin sees on TV exposes her to more of the world than she gets from just Londo, the nanny and me. Even more than books can in some ways, because there is action to go along with the words and pictures.

About two weeks ago, when the Pumpkin would. not. lie. down for her nap, I sat in the glider and she sat on the ottoman and she was talking away. I realized she was talking about Dora and Boots. So asked her what they were doing. She said, "Dora and Boots fall!" I have no idea which episode she was talking about or if she was just making it up. But I asked her what happened next, and she said, "Dora and Boots fall! Crash! Into the water!" And after a little more, she mentioned a witch. (I finally figured she must have been referring to the Snow Princess episode which we had seen recently, but I didn't watch the whole thing since I was cooking, so I can't be sure.) I found this story telling ability incredibly cute. Her ability to recall and tell me what happened in such detail is a new development, and maybe TV helped her with that.

Anyway, I'm not 100% comfortable with the amount of TV she sometimes watches, but it doesn't seem to be harming her development. In fact, it seems to be helping in some ways, as she talks about things and concepts that are new to her which she learned about on TV. And the TV is helping Londo and I get through a very difficult time for us.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Question of the Week - A Parent's Gotta Do What a Parent's Gotta Do

We are having lots of fun with Toddler Tantrums these days. My little darling girl is really asserting her independence. She knows what she wants and what she doesn't, and Lord help whoever is trying to get her to stop doing what she wants or do something she doesn't want!

I think I have to finally admit that she's more stubborn than I am. Or at least, she has more energy and uses tactics that I couldn't get away with wouldn't. I just don't have the energy to argue with her or deal with all the tantrums.

So last week, I made my first bribe of something sweet with the Pumpkin. And it worked like a charm!!! Sure I would have given her a sip of my delicious Rita's Misto shake, but what I really wanted was for her to get in her highchair and put her bib on without a big fight and ensuing tantrum. And she did! And I gave her a sip of my Misto! And we ate lunch together without any tantrums and with a few more sips of Misto!

In my ideal world, I wouldn't have to resort to bribing my child. But in the real world, sometimes I'm going to have to bribe the kid (and future kid). I'm not perfect, and neither is my kid or the world we live in. And sometimes, a parent has got to do, what a parent has got to do.

Which brings us to this week's question of the week...

What have you had to do as a parent that you wouldn't have ideally needed to do?

I, of course, have another one. Because of my SAD and the pregnancy, I just don't have the same level of energy as I do in the summer. The Pumpkin does have the same level of energy, and Londo is getting worn out from having to take on so many responsibilities that I can't do anymore. So when I watch the Pumpkin now, I often have to put on the TV and just sit and watch it with her.

In my ideal world, I wouldn't need the TV as much as I do to entertain my child. In my ideal world, I would have enough energy to keep up with the Pumpkin. But I don't have the energy and I do need the TV.

On the bright side, I'm finally watching Dora and some other shows that everyone else seems to be talking about! It's nice to be in the loop.

How about you? What have you done/are you doing to make it through the day?