Saturday, September 7, 2013

Do TV Shows Really Affect our Children's Attitudes?

This week I had a very helpful therapy session! :)  My 7 year old has been having a pretty rotten attitude lately.  Lots of negative comments, sassy remarks and disrespectful "tween" talk.  I couldn't figure out what was going on inside her heart.  I didn't expect this until she turned 12?  But here we were, at age 7.  So in my usual way, I turned to all my parenting books.  

Now I've pretty much read every self-help book on parenting.  I don't feel as though training my children to be healthy successful adults comes easy for me...I mean, for heaven's sake, it's hard enough for me to be a healthy successful adult! LOL!  So I read tons of books and pull what I can from each.  One of my favorite books on the subject is Say Goodbye to Whining, Complaining and Bad Attitudes in You and Your Kids.  Mostly it says that everyone in the family has to honor each other...and the parents are the example.  Also, my therapist, who's a child therapy specialist, helps me a ton!

So, on Wednesday I spoke with her about my daughter's behavior, which has suddenly worsened over the summer.  She's always been a more serious child, but I wouldn't have said she was negative or pessimistic.  So my therapist asked me 1 question: What is she watching on TV?
Saturday Morning Cartoons!
Now, I try to protect my kids from as much outside influence as possible, without going overboard and shielding them from society as a whole.  A bubble never did anyone any good...teach kids "why" not "no".  I'm a huge fan of Common Sense Media's website!  All you have to do is type in the book, movie, tv show, song, video game and it will give you an age that they "conservatively" think it's appropriate for...along with a breakdown of why.  They rate it by age and give it 1-5 stars for a positive message.  Every kids movie I have in my house has a sharpie number marked on it with the age that Common Sense Media suggests...mostly for babysitters to know what my kids can watch.

Here are Common Sense Media's Beliefs:

Our 10 Beliefs

  1. We believe in media sanity, not censorship.
  2. We believe that media has truly become "the other parent" in our kids' lives, powerfully affecting their mental, physical, and social development.
  3. We believe in teaching our kids to be savvy, respectful and responsible media interpreters, creators, and communicators.  We can’t cover their eyes but we can teach them to see.
  4. We believe parents should have a choice and a voice about the media our kids consume and create. Every family is different but all need information.
  5. We believe that the price for free and open media is a bit of extra homework for families. Parents need to know about the media their kids use and need to teach responsible, ethical behavior as well as manage overall media use.
  6. We believe that through informed decision making, we can improve the media landscape one decision at a time.
  7. We believe appropriate regulations about right time, right place, and right manner exist. They need to be upheld by our elected and appointed leaders.
  8. We believe in age-appropriate media and that the media industry needs to act responsibly as it creates and markets content for each audience.
  9. We believe ratings systems should be independent and transparent for all media.
  10. We believe in diversity of programming and media ownership.
I also have a general rule of thumb, "if the kids in the show are older than you, then you cannot watch it without my permission."  They don't have to ask me to watch Blues Clues, Special Agent Oso, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse...but other shows on the Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon and Netflix...they need permission for those.

So, my therapist and I discussed these shows.  She recommended that I watch some of the shows with the kids to find out if it's appropriate or not.  Ugh...can I vomit now?  Who wants to do that?  Oh well, I guess I'll get busy sitting and watching.  

But, in the mean time, I did my cyber homework and gave the kids a list of shows they can and cannot watch (I read most shows full reviews to come to these conclusions).  These are the shows they routinely ask me if they can watch.  I told them that if they can be responsible and trustworthy to only watch the shows on the "can watch" list, then as they get older, we will discuss moving some of the "cannot watch" over to the "can watch" list.  Here's hoping they will be trustworthy!

My kids are:
7 year old girl
6 year old girl
5 year old twin boys

However, the greatest advice she gave me was to discuss with my kids the attitudes of the kids on the shows.  I don't like giving my kids blanket "no, because I said so" responses.  I like to tell them why and help train their hearts to know why for themselves as well.

So here were her suggested conversations to have with the kids:
1.  When the kids on the show are being sassy, are they being sassy to their parents or their peers?  Most of the time it's their peers and there's always a time and a place for certain words, it's called manners.  Those words and phrases like "whatever", "that's stupid", "talk to the hand" are never appropriate to speak to your parent or adults.
2.  Just because kids on TV aren't held responsible for their actions, get away with disrespectful talk, break things, have crushes, ect. does not mean that it's ok for you.  Every family has their own set of rules.  Our rules are different from theirs.  You can watch this show, but the first time that you start acting like them, you lose your TV privileges.  We can't cover their eyes, but we can teach them to see :)

We had this talk on Wednesday night.  I have noticed a huge difference in my daughter's attitude and conversations already, which, honestly, I found surprising.  Fingers crossed that it continues...but in the mean time, I guess I'll be watching a lot of "Good Luck Charlie" just in case!  Keep me in your prayers! LOL!

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