Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Childhood Woes

People are talking about children growing up too fast.  In fact, there has been enough talk to call the 'disappearance of childhood' a societal issue.

Naturally, as with any issue, arguments can be made both agreeing and disagreeing that childhood is disappearing.  One could argue that technology exposes children to more information, more quickly, thus increasing their rate of understanding and maturity.  However, one could also argue that children are staying at home longer, and pursuing childlike activities to an older age.

Personally, I'm not sure whether childhood is disappearing or not.  What I do know is how my own child behaves is drastically different from how I behaved as a child.

When I was young, we were always outside.  Everyday, rain or shine.  We had races, colored with chalk, rode bikes, roller-skated, and played in the grass all day.

My seven-year-old daughter doesn't like to play.

She will color.  She will jump in the pool, build with blocks, or play with her dolls, but only if someone does it with her.  When she is alone, all she wants to do is watch movies.

I was concerned when I noticed that my child couldn't seem to use her imagination and play on her own.  Especially when she began quoting lines from the movies that were inappropriate for a little girl.  She would hear phrases like 'make out' in an animated movie and think it was ok for her.

So I looked to the Internet to see if other parents were having these problems with their children.  I found that they were.

So, I took action.  I started sending her to her room for mandatory playtime.  I had to give her suggestions of games she might want to play.  For example, I would tell her to play pet adoption day with her Littlest Pet Shops and her Barbies, or to pretend she was on safari with her stuffed animals.

I also limited her television, video game and Internet intake to two hours total per day for the summer and one hour per day during the school year, excluding educational activities.

At first, my daughter acted like I was punishing her, but she has been getting better at playing on her own.  If her friends are unavailable to visit, or I don't have time, she is now using her imagination more and playing like a child should.

This experiment has been going on for almost two months, and I can say that I am much less worried about my child's ability to be a child.  She has been more active and the use of her imagination has sparked many questions.  She thinks about the world differently when she is pretending, and she asks questions about how things work, or why things happen, that we then spend time together figuring out.

Her playtime has not only made her more independent, but has improved the quality of the time we spend together, by allowing me to perform the most basic task of a parent, explaining the world to my child.

1 comment:

  1. there is a single mom, without a job at the moment and a 3 year old son... she has a kitchen table, a mattress, a computer, and a desk-like table, and that's pretty much it for furnature...

    anyway, we spent some time over there painting and sprucing the place up, and all the boy does is run outside, then inside, then outside, then inside... constantly playing, imagining, and involved with his mom...

    i started out feeling really bad for the two of them for their lack of tv, couch, and other 'essentials', but after a few days left with a feeling of something very organic and special between the two of them... seems like without the modern day distractions there's a very healthy imagination for the boy, and a good relationship with his mom...