Chapter Review – Television, Computers and Video Games
John definitely saves the best for last in The New Six-Point Plan for Raising Happy, Healthy Children.
This final chapter is mostly about TV and John forthrightly says what most people already know but are afraid to admit.
…Watching television inhibits the development of initiative, curiosity, resourcefulness, creativity, motivation, imagination, reasoning and problem-solving abilities, communication skills, social skills, fine and gross motor skills, and eye-hand coordination.
And after saying this he implies other detriments could be named also.
Not a nice picture. No pun intended.
Even though John’s advice does not run parallel with the opinions of his peers he doesn’t shy away from saying what parents need to hear. No hinting or beating around the bush. He knows and readily admits that his advice runs counter to modern ideas about raising kids but while everyone stammers he speaks out.
In spite of his academic achievements, however, what he advises, he learned and proved in the laboratory of family life as a child, a parent and a counselor.
So his advice is qualified by many levels of experience and academic studies.
In this last chapter John focuses on the problems TV causes, particularly in the life of developing preschoolers, and he draws from his own experience to make his point.
His son, Eric, was failing the third grade and as it turned out television was a major contributor to the problem.
Eric was struggling to complete in-class assignments and John and his wife, Willie, were exhausted with pushing and prodding him to finish the tasks at home. The stalemate was broken when Eric’s teacher informed them – only half way through the year – that Eric would not be promoted to fourth grade.
Up to that point John had faithfully applied the popular principles of psychology for raising children. Following that meeting, however, things changed.
John’s wife, Willie, had a heart to heart with John about changing their parenting ways. They both agreed that they hadn’t turned out badly so maybe their parents weren’t that wrong after all. Together, they devised a new approach which John describes as:
A benevolent dictatorship, the antithesis of the parenting that was popular at the time. We began telling Eric and Amy what we wanted them to do instead of asking, pleading, bargaining, bribing, reasoning, and explaining – i.e., wishing. We embraced a zero-tolerance policy concerning disobedience. If one of them disobeyed, we punished instead of talked.
And probably the most dramatic change they made was the suspension of TV viewing. They didn’t just stop watching TV, they gave theirs away.
The end result was nothing short of remarkable. In John’s words: [Read more…]