While reading a Waldorf education related mailing list, I came across this thoughtful and interesting message from Kimberley Weaver, and, with her gracious permission, I’m reproducing it here for your reading enjoyment.
I had a similar experience with my kids when I was pregnant. I had severe morning sickness through most of my pregnancies and during my third my husband was working full-time *and* doing his PhD. So, my kids watched more TV than normal while I was pregnant.
That being said, they still watched a bit every day until we noticed problems two years ago with my 4yr old daughter and her reaction to media. That coupled with a switch to Waldorf education lead us to walk down the no-media path.
It was a fairly rough transition at first and my daughter (4 at the time) rebelled against it quite heavily. I even noticed it was rough for my 2yr old who really didn’t know how to play on his own when his sister was at kindergarten and the two of them seemed a bit lost for the first few weeks.
BUT, the good news is that it’s pretty wonderful to see everything that happens on the other side of the fence. I’d had some resistance from my family over the no media decision and they would try to sneak in TV for my deprived children when we were around, but my mother quickly came around to our side when she saw just how different the children’s play was. All of a sudden my kids didn’t need to be entertained. There was no sense of panic when we didn’t have plans outside the house or the weather outside was bad.
My kids had to go through the withdrawal pains of being entertained by the tube towards a new path of being able to entertain themselves. There’s nothing like a little boredom to bring out some ingenuity and my kids quickly realized that if they didn’t figure out something to do, they’d have nothing to do.
So, I absolutely do not believe that the opportunity is EVER lost for anyone to reap the benefits of no-media. I am seriously considering getting rid of our TV completely because the kids can go weeks without watching anything but I need to check in with a few shows a week. I don’t like the example it sets for the kids and I feel like I’m being hypocritical to tell them that they aren’t allowed to watch TV while they know that some nights I put them to bed and watch it myself.
Yes, it’s never too late for any of us to benefit from the opportunities. All I can say is that I’m glad that we persevered with the kids because it was the best thing we ever did (aside from finding our local Waldorf school) as my kids are so much happier and better adjusted not watching TV. They know how to play and how to communicate with others kids in a real way instead of just regurgitating what they’ve watched on TV.
In taking away the TV, it’s given our children the gift of knowing themselves and being able to answer the question “What do you want to do” with any number of ideas, none of which include whatever’s on TV at the time. Hang in there!!!
We’re AP’ers too. Our 2.5yr old still sleeps on a crib mattress on the floor beside our bed every night. I think that Waldorf education is a natural fit for attachment parents as it respects many of the lifestyle choices that are made. It’s not uncommon to have extended nursing, cosleeping, etc in our Waldorf school where we’d be looked at as monsters with three heads in the public system!
We were AP long before we had any experience with WE or a media-free lifestyle for our kids. Something never quite gelled for me when we’d let the kids sleep in our bedroom at night and then just dump them in front of a TV during the day (not all day, but still…). At that time, I just didn’t have all the information and experience for it to crystallize into an understanding until we felt the pressure from the kindergarten teachers at our local Waldorf school when we went for the kids’ interviews to join the school.
At that point we didn’t watch a lot of TV but I felt like we wouldn’t belong or fit in if the kids watched TV so that was the main impetus for us to go cold turkey. I swear to the fact that I have different kids a year and a half later. They can make an adventure out of collecting sticks in the backyard to make a bonfire for gnomes, chasing the dogs around the living room and listening to stories we tell or books we read with much more enthusiasm than they ever watched TV.
By far the most important thing is the difference it’s made in their sense of fear. They just weren’t able to process all the images on TV and it would give them nightmares and make them very scared that the bizarre pictures on the screen could actually happen in real life.
My kids aren’t scared any longer from what they’ve seen on TV. I find they’re much more compassionate too as they have real interactions with other human beings instead of learning how to treat others from the “role models” presented by today’s children’s programming.