“ Parents hiring coaches to raise phone-free kids”, said the headlines. I just shook my head in a mixture of emotions. I was sad, I was angry, I was frustrated. I wondered if we were raising smart babies or babies with smartphones?
Smart Babies or Babies with Smartphones?
While I can very well understand why parents need help to wean their kids off smart phones, I can’t help but ask where did it all start? When did that little baby get hooked on to that piece of technology? Did he or she at a few months old decide that this is the one must have toy?
With the experience of bringing up my own kids and
being surrounded by a lot of nieces and nephews and even great nieces and
nephews now, it truly saddens me that today’s kids cannot eat a meal if they
are not distracted by YouTube jingles being played on the phone.
Whatever happened to the fun and joy of pretending that the crow was going to eat the morsel before baby did and then clapping and laughing because we fooled the crow? Or pretending that the spoon of food was a train going into the tunnel of baby’s mouth? Those were the days when feeding your baby was so personal. You interacted with each other, you made up crazy stories and you had fun.
But now it is baby watch the phone while mummy shovels food into your mouth. Oh of course, there is so much other work to do that we have no time to spare to make meals something special. And all too soon, the kids will grow up and then we say, “They don’t talk to me at all!”
It’s not just the smart phones but the television too that had become a monster today. But who introduced the kid to the monster? Did the kid switch it on for the first time? Or was it Mummy and Daddy who decided that the television was a convenient babysitter?
But if not the television then what else? The window, the balcony, the garden; even the stuff in the kitchen!
I have twins and when they were babies, it was difficult getting any work done because they were always underfoot. I used to put them in their pram and keep them with me in the kitchen when I was preparing food. As I cut the vegetables, I used to show it to them and say the name of the vegetable I was cutting and if it was something that could be eaten raw, I’d give them a finger of it to chew on.
Otherwise we would sit at the window and watch the world and I would name the different things we saw. I would say, “See that red car! It’s going fast!” or “That yellow butterfly is so pretty.” This not only helped them identify things at a pretty early age, they also started talking very early.
We are born into a society where we are expected to get married at an appropriate age and then have kids, whether we are ready for them or not. But once you have a kid, he or she is yours. You as a parent are responsible for how they grow, how they learn, what kind of early life experience they have that will shape their world view.
Good parenting is not easy. It does not happen by the way. It is a continuous series of conscious decisions that one has to make, no matter how hard, in order to bring up a child to be the person he or she was meant to be.
We as parents want our children to have that edge where it comes to becoming a success. But success is not dependent on that smart phone or that TV set. It depends on the ability to think on one’s feet and make the right decisions at the right time. It depends on being able to see the whole of a problem as well as the details and that is what we need to teach our kids.
That takes effort. Technology like the television or the phone cannot replace the human touch that is so essential in the early years of life. You need to challenge your child with puzzles, with games, with stories, with action to help him develop all those cognitive skills so necessary for his success.
So put away that smart phone. Find a ball and get out and play with your kids. Read to them. Talk to them. Listen to them. You might be pleasantly surprised by the result.