Hey you, business owners. You know who you are. You run the places that both kids and parents love, the places with the play structures, trampolines, and such. Our kids get to run off energy, strengthen gross motor skills, work on independent problem solving, and have unstructured fun being kids! The parents get a benefit too. We get to play or jump with our kids or even sneak away to read or get some tasks completed alone. It’s a relatively inexpensive way to wear off energy and ensure happy and tired little bodies headed home for a long afternoon nap.
You know what else you have?
LOTS of TVs. At a play place! You know kids don’t need to sit still, like they would at a restaurant, right? Why do you have them? Is it to entertain the kids? Isn’t that what your play structures and trampolines are for?
You know what really gets my goat?
My children watching TV from the play structures. They have actually stopped their play to watch TV. Couldn’t we do this at home? Go play! And don’t think it’s just my kids either. I’ve seen gobs of children huddle together to do the same thing. I’ve witnessed summer daycare groups sit at their tables watching TV while eating their lunch instead of interacting with one another. Actual social skill opportunities are being interrupted by yet another screen in their face.
The solution is simple, right? Just walk up to the counter and politely ask for them to be turned off, or at the very least, turned to a non-cartoon station. Nope. Been there, done that. I was met with the question, “Why?”
How much time do you have? Where do I begin?
Parenting is hard work, which most of you probably know first-hand. Do you think that the TVs will help us in our parenting endeavor because they will keep our children quiet? Thanks, but no thanks. I don’t want my kids to be constantly entertained and therefore appear well-behaved. I want them to actually learn how to talk with others, wait patiently, and continue their work towards independence and self-control.
You’ve heard the phrase “It takes a village,” right? Well, here’s the deal. You’re part of my village. You, along with the rest of society, help form my child’s view of the world. The constant entertainment comes at us from every direction: restaurants, sporting events, stores, doctors’ offices, and the list goes on.
You are teaching my kids that they can’t entertain themselves so you will stick a screen in their face to do it for them.
I think we can agree that “kids nowadays just aren’t like they were back in the good ‘ole days when they would play outside for hours on end.” Well, I’m sure trying my hardest to have a healthy balance of unstructured play time, both indoors and out, education, snuggles, and chores. So please, as part of my village, help me regain some of the enthusiasm and curiosity of children that we remember from years ago. After all, you have quotes from some of the greatest experts in child development hanging on your wall. And if you really believe that “Play is the work of a child,” as quoted by Maria Montessori, you’ll help me by turning off the TVs.
Let’s prove to society that our kids can rise to the occasion without a screen in their face. Let’s encourage our children to learn manners, turn-taking, compassion, and problem solving in a natural, child-centered setting. Let’s give our kids the freedom to do the most important work of a child: play.
Mommas, join me in asking businesses to #turnitoff when you find TVs interrupting your family dinner, opportunity for conversation, or the most heart-breaking of all, the work of play in your children.
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