Encouraging TV Watching??

I took my daughter to her 18-month checkup at the health centre this week. I was yet again astounded by the ‘wonderful’ suggestions made to me. This one was about TV viewing.

All was going well. It was just the usual check up on height, weight, development etc.
Then towards the end, completely out of the blue, the health nurse asked me if my daughter liked The Wiggles (Although at this stage my daughter was being referred to as ‘he’ instead of ‘she’). I’m sure my confusion at the question showed but I replied, “Yes, but she doesn’t really watch much of that type of thing at this age.” The health nurse then, in her glorious wisdom, suggested that I watch these types of programs with my daughter so I can have some time to relax each day.

I’m still at a loss as to why she thought I needed this advice. I didn’t say I was tired or rundown or needed a break. I’d had a decent night’s sleep so I don’t think that I looked overwrought – no bags under the eyes as far as I knew. So why actually suggest to me that I have my daughter watch TV on a daily basis?

It really makes me wonder where some of the health funding comes from. Especially as this was not the only recommendation for TV viewing that came up. I was also handed a sheet on language acquisition and play for 18 month olds. In it there were two quotes from mothers of 18 month olds about what children do at this age. The first one seemed reasonable – it was about her child enjoying the park. The second was about TV viewing. This is the quote:

“I thought little kids shouldn’t really watch TV. But when I sat down with Josh, I could see how much he enjoyed the talking and the songs. So – we don’t watch much TV, but we watch it together.”

Then in the section on play there are three suggestions. One is on pretend play, one is on playdough and painting. But the third is:

“Watch television together …”
I just can’t believe that 18 month olds are actively being encouraged by health centres to be plonked in front of the television. There are a million and one suggestions of things to do with your child, yet watching TV was the main one in the pamphlet. And all this when there is this huge problem of obesity and sedentary lifestyles in today’s society. I just can’t wait until our 2 year old checkup when I can gain some more “valuable” advice.

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