Is is real or pretend?

Teaching preschoolers is a joy. The never cease to amaze me with their fresh perspectives and their logic. On the playground last week a group of 4 year olds had a heated argument, they all just knew they were right, and tried without end to convince the other. The subject? Do firetrucks have wings.

Even I barely know what is real in today’s world. Watching a nature video about life under the sea I try to draw in my teenage son. “That’s all just CG, you know Mom” he informs me. (I’m embarrassed  to admit the only reason I know what the initials “CG” even mean is because I have teenagers) What? that beautiful whale is a computer image? I thought I could at least trust nature videos to be real.

So what do these beautiful innocent minds think of the world that is presented to them? They soak it ALL up like a sponge, we know that. How can they even begin to sort out all the images, concepts, and language they are exposed to? And now it is Christmas time. As I watch the evening news I am bombarded with advertisements, what to eat, buy, give, take. It is overwhelming. Commercialism during children’s shows is a frenzy. The American Dream~ things things new and better things. But that is another subject. I want to talk about the content of children’s lives.I want to talk about the ways that what they see on television, and in their daily lives BECOMES who they are. They mimic everything they see and hear. That is how they learn

Ask any teacher, we can tell which child is watching a lot of TV and what kind of TV they are watching just from their play and mannerisms. We are all inundated with video, phone, computer, and TV. Children dont know real from non real. Children incorporate the behaviors they see role modeled, in the home and on the television. They watch the relationships. They copy the mannerisms. They copy the attitudes. They learn what is funny and try it all on for size. Even the children’s shows very often have children speaking to each other rudely, competitively, dishonestly and spitefully.Watch the programs  and advertisements with your child, and watch very carefully. Listen to the words, see the body language, and their conflict resolutions. Especially if they are under 7 look for kindness, cooperation, forgiving, compassion, slow proper speech that they can understand and incorporate and that you want them to repeat. Look for the traits that you want to see in your children, Think of the child you want your child to be, and very carefully select their role models. From ALL their role models, real and not real, they are equally influenced. And for the youngest children it goes directly into the core of their personality that is now developing..

A 3 year old child in my school was throwing a lot of temper tantrums, at school, at home, everywhere.. Whenever he didn’t get what he thought he wanted it went from a  noisy fuss to a kicking screaming rolling on the floor tantrum that was difficult for everyone especially him. One day his babysitter was watching his favorite children’s tv show and noticed the behavior similarities between the child and and the main character. Except this main character got what he wanted with tantrums The babysitter and the child’s mom changed the  programming choices to calm slow peaceful programs like Fireman Sam. The child’s behavior changed as well. Another little boy I had carried a sword to school every day, (in the form of a stick, toy etc) we couldn’t pry it out of his hands. Later I found out he had been watching Alien when he thought his Dad wasn’t noticing. The child really felt he needed protection.

Children don’t know real from fantasy until 6, 7, 8 , even older, like I said, sometimes even I don’t know the difference.

And sleeping alone in a dark room when you don’t know exactly what to expect from the world can be a scary thing.

Happy Holidays everyone and do your kids a favor. Turn off the TV and bake some cookies together.


Diane Rose runs Montessori Fun, a beautiful Home Montessori Preschool in Windsor, CA

2 comments on “Is is real or pretend?”

  1. Love, love, love this post!

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