What Are We Feeding Our Kids?

¬† Bet you thought I was going to talk about all the gross stuff hidden in ‚Äúkid‚ÄĚ foods like hot dogs, mac and cheese and freezer pizza, right?

  Nope, I am talking about feeding their Brains!  Hungry for tactile, hands on, run around outside and play, kitchen table turned tent, kind of stuff.

¬† Today I am asking you to watch this week at how often your children’s brain ‚Äúconsume‚ÄĚ fast food, sugar and junk.

  Lets say playing Xbox, PSIII or even Wii, is like eating McDonald’s cheeseburger and fries.  Once in a while is ok, for a special treat, right?!  But if you eat this McDonald’s meal every day, your health is going to go downhill. 

McDonald'scredit

¬† I know its ‚ÄúIn‚ÄĚ to let kids play video games because it keeps them quiet and with Wii, they can at least enjoy it while being active, right?

   For us, we have decided no video games at all for now. {This can be re-addressed later as they get older.} The decision comes much easier now that Dale put away his video games and quit Xbox Live. 

¬† What about TV time? Regular shows like PBS‚Äôs line up of Daniel Tigers Neighborhood, Sesame Street, Super Why.¬† I am not including cable shows, because we don’t have cable. {From what I hear, we aren’t missing much but sassy, too big for their britches, wanna-be-teenage 9 year-olds, on the kids channels now!} ¬†

  If Xbox is fast food, then those PBS shows, are little Lollipops or a candy treat. They are sweet, they are sugary, and they keep our kids quiet right?! How bad can they be?

Pretty bad if ingested every day, all day long.

Candy

  As a mom of young children, its important to me, to really limit Tv time, because I want them to play and use their imaginations.  The rule at our house is school kids don’t get TV time during the school week, and the little ones at home get an hour total, spent usually between 9-10am.  {That way Mommy can prep supper, or even get a shower!} That hour of media time can also be spent on an educational lap top or computer game, their choice.

   I used to set a timer, but I am better now at watching that it doesn’t go over an hour.  And, all the kids know when the words come up at the end of a show, the tv goes off.  If it doesn’t, then they are grounded the next day from any media time!!!! 

  Setting a timer will train your brain too, what an hour feels like, so all of a sudden 2 hours hasn’t passed you by.  Also, the kids quickly learned that if you ask for laptop time the last 15 minutes of Sesame Street, mom will say no.

“Sorry Pax, One or the other, not both!”¬†

laptop toy

¬† We try to take it a step further, and promote TV time to be educational, or about Jesus, that way they are still learning during that hour.¬† But, I sure don‚Äôt mind when they want to watch a fun longer movie once in a while. Just not every day, or even every week! ¬†{When we are all sick, there is grace for this hour time to be longer, as we all rest and try to heal! But, they also love to listen to Adventure in Odyssey Cd’s…..that has been the BEST investment ever!}

¬†In the evening, Dale helps promote this by keeping the TV off until the children are all in bed. I am so blessed that sometimes, he doesn’t even turn it on at all! {Unless of course, there is some AMAZING football game he has to catch the end of.} He finds too, that the kids don‚Äôt play as well when it‚Äôs on.

¬†¬†¬† So, let’s go back to TV time during the day when we are home with the children‚Ķ‚Ķ

¬† I know, I know, we SAHM’s can all get LOTS done while our kids do these activities, because they are so darn quiet! ¬†But, just like sucking on a sweet little sucker every day, eventually there is a cavity, or problem.

Did you know?  {source for the following info}

The average American child watches about 4 hours of television a day [Source: AAP], while 20 percent of children under 2 have televisions in their rooms.   

Did you know…….

¬†That more and more parents are allowing their tiny babies to watch videos on their phones. Some will even lay them in front of the TV, thinking it is harmless, when in fact, the flashing screen and loud sounds can actually disrupt important brain connections that need to be made in those early on months and even up to the first two years…..¬†

 Among babies 3 months old and younger, 40% watch TV, with the percentage increasing significantly for children age 2 and younger. 

A study in 2003 found that children¬†6¬†months to 6 years old¬†spend an average of¬†two hours a day¬†dealing with “screen media” like televisions,¬†computers¬†and¬†video games.¬†

The study also revealed a correlation between time spent watching television and difficulty reading.

Researchers contend that even {Baby Einstein Videos} don’t provide this stimulation‚Ķthey don’t provide the benefits they claim, and they may even do harm. ¬†

   

To determine how programs like “Baby Einstein” affected development, they focused on vocabulary:

¬† On average, for every hour a day a child {8 months to 16 months} watched these programs he or she knew six to eight fewer words compared to children of the same age that didn’t watch…….

¬† One of the researchers involved with the “Baby Einstein” study said that he would prefer that parents watch television with their children, if they allow their children to watch TV at all. That way at least the parents would be engaging with their children and helping them to understand unfamiliar concepts on the screen. The creators of the “Baby Einstein” series offer the same advice!¬†

  Babies of today are also missing out on the stimuli that comes from seeing Mommy face to face during play time, and lying in her arms instead of the car seat when out together.
The quiet, non flashing, non-noisy toys of yesteryear, are being passed by in stores to pick up the lights, sounds and “entertain me” toys of today. ¬†All the lights and noise can actually over-stimulate our babies and just like watching TV, it can cause them to miss out on some very important development and brain connections.¬†
 

Reading time....Baby Pax, looking at a book

A child’s brain is very sensitive before age 2. It’s still developing neural connections and growing in size. Because of this sensitivity, it’s important for babies to have a lot of interactive stimulation to learn and develop.

  Is it any wonder that after all the tv and playtime with flashing, noisy toys, these children are less likely to want to sit in school and color a picture?

Why would they? It doesn’t sing, dance, do flips or flash lights at them!

There are many, many good sources on the web for good ol’ fashioned wooden toys, or soft board books to start giving your baby to play with. ¬†And maybe, just maybe, when the batteries run out on your Lights and Sounds baby toy, leave it that way.

So how about a Media Detox for our kiddos this week?  

What?!

You mean no computer, no iPad, Tablet, Laptop or TV time for SEVEN WHOLE DAYS?  

Are you crazy!?!?!?!

Maybe. ¬†ūüôā ¬†

  We all know the kids will whine and be BORED at first, you will be irritated and wonder why the heck you are even trying this, but just wait……

With a detox, you always feel worse before you feel better, right!?  

  I bet, by the end of a week, or maybe two weeks for those die-hard media fans, your children will be playing so nicely together!

  They might even disappear under a kitchen table tent, out into the backyard, or into a play room-turned castle for hours, as they travel to far away lands!!! All without needing media to occupy their thoughts!

  I bet you will be surprised how the tone of your home feels different, too!  

Avery made herself a reading chair

  Next, I want to encourage you to replace 20 minutes of that normal slot of media time, reading out loud to your kids. 

  This can also be done at the table while they eat lunch, right before they go down for afternoon naps, or even save it for before bed. 

Set that time aside and watch it grow into a special family tradition.    

Reading

And, in the long run? Reading will make them better students, too! 

Reading

Additional Info:

  • Today, kids under 2 spend more than twice as much time watching videos, as they do being read to.
  • In 2/3 of households, TVs are on during meals.¬†
  • In 75% of households, TVs are on when no one is watching them.
  • More than 70% of kids have TVs in their bedrooms¬†
  • Only 1/3 of households have media-consumption rules

¬† “No surprise, more media is consumed in households in which TVs are always on, where there are no media consumption rules, and where kids have TVs in their bedrooms.¬†¬†And, no surprise, kids who consume the most media get the worst grades. (but is this cause or effect?)”

  The original play station

¬†Here’s to “Feeding” our precious bundles of joy some good wholesome “Food” this week….
Happy Detox!

Hugs, T

¬†“You‚Äôll see your true self when you look for your reflection in the eyes of souls, not the glare of screens.” Ann Voskamp

{Source for parts of this post}

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Want to read more?  

Additional Info & Stats

More reading statistics here:¬†¬†“Mommy, Reading Makes My Brain Strong!”

Mommy, Reading makes my brain STRONG!

Ty came up to me the other day…..”Mommy, Reading makes my brain STRONG!”

Boy, was I ever proud! ūüôā¬† We talk a lot about how TV makes your brain soggy. and reading makes your brain strong.¬† I guess he IS listening!¬† There is nothing I love more than to see my children sitting quietly with their noses in a book.¬†

 OR, better yet, reading to each other!     My favorite, is all 4 snuggled in my lap (or around my lap, my leg-to-child ratio is off), with a huge stack of books next to us.  Sadly, that has been occurring less lately, due to new baby, and life in general, but I am bound and determined to get that set reading time back!

     Once a month, we go to the public library, and boy, do the kids get excited about that!  I know the days following our library trip will be great, because they will spend a lot of their time reading their new books!  We get a big stack of books for the 2 middles, about 15-20.  Nothing inappropriate or gross, and nothing with more than a small paragraph per page.  On average, they say to watch for books with 1 line per page, per year.  For example: 2 year old=roughly 2 lines per page. 

 

¬†Tylan likes reading books by the truck full!¬† ūüôā¬†¬†

¬†¬† Destiny is so proud to get to go to the “big girl section” and¬†pick out some chapter books.¬† She particularly likes Junie B. Jones, Ramona, the¬†Elizabeth Gale Christian mystery series¬†and anything to do with horses.¬† Last month, she was very interested in Helen Keller, so she checked out a few library books about her.¬†As the oldest, Destiny is required to read for 1 hour on Saturday and 1 on Sunday while the other children nap.¬† This gives me the break and quiet time I am used to having during the school week, and gives her some resting time without making her feel like a baby that has to nap.¬† This will be a requirement of each of our children as they outgrown their naps!¬†¬†

¬†¬† When she was a baby, and the only child (its hard to remember those days!) I was constantly nursing during the day, and would get bored, so I’d¬†flip on the¬†tv.¬† Eventually, I had a show I watched per nursing, like Starting Over for the 1:00 feeding, Oprah for the 4:00 etc.¬† But, as she got older and her schedule changed, my tv habits didn’t change.¬†¬†I was still wanting to catch “my shows”.¬†¬†Reality hit¬†when she got old¬†enough to stop playing on her blanket on the floor, and start staring at the TV instead.¬† That was my “Ah-ha” moment, and¬†I shut it off for good! I wasn’t going to have my baby’s brain¬†overstimulated by the flashing screen and being exposed to that junk!¬† I thought it’d be hard, but soon, it was easy to leave it off all day.¬† I started getting Christian fiction from the library and reading during nap time.¬† I loved it!¬† It got to the place where I was reading about 28 books a month because that’s how I chose to spend my quiet time and evenings after the kids went down.¬†Now granted, this was all before 4 kids! I have had to stop getting any books when we go to the library, because with 4 little Ferguson’s, where would I find the time?¬† However, I know it’s just¬†for a season, and I will get back to¬†it again.¬†¬†I love disappearing into a good book during those down times!¬†For now, Dale and I are exhausted enough by the end of the day, that¬†you’ll find us lying semiconscious¬†on the¬†love seat staring at the TV once the kids are asleep.¬† lol ūüôā

¬†¬†¬† Don’t get me wrong,¬†TV has its place. Heck, it’s the¬†source of our¬†weekend “date night”, when we rent a movie.¬†¬†I just find it irritating and unproductive to have it on during the day.¬† This is why we don’t have cable.¬† I think it’d be too hard to keep those home improvement, fashion and baby shows off!¬†Plus, as soon as the TV comes on, my kids are drawn to it like bugs to a light.¬† Why is that?¬† Even if it’s the¬†most boring show on¬†earth or a COMMERCIAL¬†even, and they will stop and stare with their mouths open.¬† Ooo, I hate it! I tell them I can hear their brains getting soggy!¬†

¬†¬†¬† As a mom, I think its part of our job description to stop taking the easy route of flipping on the tv, and start promote reading to our children.¬† If we don’t, who will????¬† It’s my fervent prayer that¬†my children will love to read.¬† I think it will make their school days so much more enjoyable, and promote good habits for when they have their own families.¬† I look forward to the day when all of my kids are readers and on some snowy, lazy, Saturday afternoon, our kids can be found in various locations of the house, with their noses in their book.¬† (Dale hates to read, so maybe we’d let him watch TV?) lol ūüôā¬†

¬†¬† According to this article, reading helps promote family relationships.¬† It also helps with your child’s attention¬†span.¬† If they are constantly being entertained by flashing media and toys, how will they ever be satisfied with a book with no lights or moving parts?¬†Or blocks that just stack?¬†Or know what to do with that box of dress up clothes?¬†

¬† Be aware of your child’s exposure to this form of media and limit it!¬†If drastic measures need to be taken, unplug the tv for a week (or two).¬† Watch their imaginations come to life!

  The following tips and suggestions will help you get started on your commitment to limit tv and get your family on that important road to reading with your child:

  • Be an example, let your child see you reading.
  • Spend time together, reading should be fun. Don’t push too hard, but stick to your guns too! Even 20 minutes a day will help for a lifetime.
  • Let your child read to you. Start out simple with easy-to-read books, and encourage your child to try new words.
  • Set aside daily reading times, like between lunch and naps. Or right before bed. You and your child can end your day by reading quietly together.¬† This is a good opportunity to start introducing them to¬†daily Bible reading and quiet time with the Lord.
  • Tired of “baby books”?¬† Even young children can grasp chapter books. Start a¬†gender neutral¬†series like Little House on the Prairie, and read a chapter each night before Bible story time.¬† My mom did this for me when I was 2 years old.¬† And later on, as a¬†7-year-old,¬† I have such fond memories of¬†her sitting in the hallway between my room and my little brother’s, reading out loud from a chapter book.¬† Oh, how we’d BEG her for just one more chapter!¬† ūüôā

¬†¬† Our kids are entitled to 1 hour of TV a day. Period.¬† (In fact, once the kids are in school, they get none¬†until the¬†weekend.)¬† This hour may be spent on a mom approved tv show, or an educational computer game.¬† Once that time is up, the tv/computer goes off.¬† If the child fails to shut the tv or computer off after the 1 hour mark, they are grounded from the¬†it the next day.¬†It’s been very effective, and even 2-year-old Avery knows to get the remote and shut the tv off when the words come up!¬†

¬†¬†Feel like you are too busy to read to your kids?¬† Even just reading a book or two while they are eating lunch can make a life long difference.¬† Is it too easy to use the¬†TV as a way to buy yourself time?¬†¬† “Go watch tv until dinner is ready.”¬† Be prepared, for these moments….for example,¬†I give my kids assignments:¬† “Go outside and run around the circle drive 3 times before coming back in.”¬†or “Starting in my room, run through each room of the house and touch¬†something red.”¬†Then orange, then¬†yellow etc.¬† ¬†Or, if you want them close by,¬†open the doors to your Tupperware cupboard, hand them a spoon or two to stir with,¬†and watch the fun begin!

¬† Another back up plan we have for crazy moments are books on CD.¬† They¬†are PERFECT for this kind of “mommy is going crazy and everything is hectic” scenario.¬† We have a Disney toddler series¬†that are CD’s and corresponding¬†board books.¬† Another one we have that Ty really enjoys is the “If You Give A Mouse A Cookie”, “If You Give A Moose A Muffin”, and,¬†“If You Give A Pig A Pancake”¬†books on CD, with fun songs between each story.¬†¬†“The Emperors Nightingale” is a story CD¬†(no book) for Destiny’s age range, it was Grandma Eileen’s favorite record when she was a kid.¬† There are some great Adventures in Odyssey story CD’s from Focus on the Family¬†too!¬†¬†It’s so good for our kids to just HEAR the story and picture it for themselves in their minds.

¬†Go to¬†Focus on the Family’s website for Adventures in Odyssey, or¬†¬†go to amazon and shop around for kids books on CD.¬† Some of them are pricey, but we figure it’s worth it so that tv isn’t¬†the only “go to” option.

  You know the best part about limiting tv time and making it a privilege rather than the norm?  When I am really needing them to use some tv time, like during a road trip, or if I am sick or they are sick, I can put on a movie for my kids, and they will not budge from that couch until it is over.  

Below are some shocking statistics on reading and tv watching:

It is estimated that more than $2 billion is spent each year on students who repeat a grade because they have reading problems. 

66% of Americans eat dinner while watching tv.

44 million adults in the U.S. can’t read well enough to read a simple story to a child.¬†

Minutes per week parents spend in meaningful conversation with their kids: 3.5

Over one million children drop out of school each year, costing the nation over $240 billion in lost earnings, forgone tax revenues, and expenditures for social services.

Percentage of daycare that use tv during a typical day: 70%

60 percent of America’s prison inmates are illiterate and 85% of all juvenile offenders have reading problems.¬†

Average hours in school, 900.  Hours per year your average youth spends watching tv: 1500

Out-of-school reading habits of students has shown that even 15 minutes a day of independent reading can expose students to more than a million words of text in a year. 

Number of murders your child sees on tv by the time they finish elementary school: 8,000

In a class of 20 students, few if any teachers can find even 5 minutes of time in a day to devote to reading with each student.

 Average violent acts your child sees on tv by the time they are 18:  200,000

Percentage of 4-6 years olds, who when asked to choose between tv time and spending time with their father, prefered tv time: 54%

¬†¬† Sickening, isn’t it?¬† Well, this has gotten¬†long enough, I am stepping off my soap box now.¬† Can you tell I am passionate about this issue?¬† Is this long enough that it¬†counts as your reading for today?! lol ūüôā

Have a fantastic weekend! 

~T ūüôā

My future reader…