Truth is…not all screen time is bad.
When I was pregnant with Little Nugget, I was like many other first-time parents, naive of what parenting would really be like. I had my expectations of what my baby would act like, how he would respond to my discipling once he understood, and thought that I’d get enough rest to be happy being a mom all the time. It’s all right if you’re laughing at with me because I am too.
I was awakened to the reality of parenthood after surviving the first night with Little Nugget. Okay, maybe not that soon because I did have a honeymoon phase with Little Nugget, which ended as soon as my lover returned to work.
One of the expectations I had for myself as a parent was that I would not allow Little Nugget to watch “a lot” of television. (The meaning of “a lot” obviously varies depending on the parent and their style.) As a baby, Little Nugget didn’t care about what was on the screen of a television, tablet, or mobile device, but then there came the day where he realized that a screen could provide cool things to watch. (He was about 2 years old.) When this happened, there were days where watching television was the only thing he wanted to do.
Experiencing Little Nugget crying over not being allowed to watch television made me feel like a negligent mom. It led me to ask myself, “Had I allowed him to watch so much television that watching television was all he cared to do? Had I ruined my child? Would he like to do anything other than sit in front of a screen?” I eventually learned that I wasn’t alone in the whole television worry thing, and realized that I was over-stressing about screen time when in reality it wasn’t all bad.
I still have my issues with Little Nugget constantly asking me to watch television first over doing anything else, but reflecting on these issues has brought me a method that I hope will bring me peace and patience with this area of parenting.
When Little Nugget asks me to watch television, I will ask him to explain what he has learned from the show he wants to watch. If it’s a lesson I agree with, I’ll go into more detail with him to ensure he’s not just making it up in order to comply with my request. If it’s a lesson I don’t agree with, I’ll do the same; however, I have to ensure to keep my mothering emotions in check. If I’m not aware, I can turn our conversation into a disciplinary situation, which is unfair for Little Nugget because I ask for his thoughts. Disciplining him simply because he answered honestly would give negative results.
I’ve given this method a few tries since coming up with it. I’ve found that Little Nugget appreciates being asked about the shows he likes to watch, almost as if he feels heard and respected. He enjoys giving me the small details about his favorite shows, which makes me realize that the details I would find insignificant are actually important to my Little Nugget.
I feel like this method may bring Little Nugget and I closer, opening lines of communication that I didn’t know were closed…all because I allow him to watch television.
Approaching screen time in this manner has helped me ease some of my anxieties, and furthermore accept that not all screen time is bad.
Cheers to finding different avenues of dealing with our parental apprehensions!