Protecting Mind and Body
As I watch young moms in my community I see many of them being hyper vigilant in the protecting of their children from harmful foods, chemicals, environmental toxins and anything that can harm their physical body. They are making their own baby food from organic vegetables, blending produce purchased at the farmers market. Some parents are dressing their babies in clothing made from natural fibers, staying away from any synthetics. They are careful that the toys the child plays with are free from asbestos, lead and other toxic materials. The toys should be safe and eco friendly. I am not criticizing any of these loving, protective behaviors. Of course we want to do all we can to make sure our children are physically healthy and safe.
My concern is that I see such vigilance in this protection of their physical bodies but what about their minds? We don’t let our children feed on junk food but their mind is feeding on harmful ideas in the media and we accept it as normal.
An average American youth will witness 200,000 violent acts on television before age 18. The problem is not only about violence but about all social behavior, how relationships are handled, sexual behavior, family dynamics and friendships. Children watch and assume that what they see on TV is how things are done and an estimated 54 percent of American children can watch this programming from the privacy of their own bedrooms. Why do we allow these ideas into our children minds so freely?
I think that the longer you can delay putting your child in front of the TV the better off they will be. Children can learn to entertain themselves in an active way instead of being passively entertained. But if you have decided to have a TV in your home then you can still monitor the content. The problem is you can’t monitor the content if you can’t see the TV so do not put a TV in your child’s room. Have the TV or computer in an area that you can see. If you can view programming with your child and discuss the content then you can have input and control.
This all seems like common sense, children mimic our behavior, I am often telling parents to model what you want your child to do, so then having them mimic what they see on TV is no surprise. I am not saying that all children that see a violent act on TV will act in the same way but why don’t we expose them to the behaviors we want them to learn? Let them watch behaviors that show kindness, respect, generosity, perseverance and compassion. The challenge of monitoring what your child views gets harder as they get older. When your children are teens I know this can be a battleground in the home. You will hear “all the other kids are watching this”. It won’t be easy and each child is different so just keep in mind as parents we are not only their to protect their physical body but their minds as well.
By Lisa Strong