My husband and I couldn't help crying with secret laughter as we listened to our two year old daughter speaking to Peppa Pig on her plastic phone this evening. We have just come back from Peppa Pig World - which she loved - except for Miss Rabbit's helicopter ride involving a seatbelt.
"Hello, Peppa? Helicopter ride, seat belt, I cried."
Our daughter is now fast asleep, surrounded by and most likely dreaming of Peppa. Looking back over her two years since birth, Peppa has been a constant. It is one of the children's programmes that I actually enjoy watching - thank you Neville Astley and Mark Baker for creating Daddy Pig and for teaching my daughter how to say "Silly Daddy!"
I have never worried about my children watching too much television. In fact rightly or not, I have always considered a certain amount of TV as beneficial. My daughter loves watching DVDs and CBeebies but I have noticed - she self regulates. More often than not if I suggest playtime (imaginary trains and shopping) - the TV will go off in favour of play. If not, it means she is tired and who doesn't love having some unwind time in front of the TV when they're tired?
Self-regulation is the key - we need to give our children the opportunity to discover their own limits for everything. Television, sugar, junk food, fizzy drinks, computers, sulking - the list is endless. The point is, if we don't give our children the opportunity to get to know the so called bad things and discover on their own how they feel about them, I imagine they will not be able to limit themselves later on. We won't always be there to lead the way - we need to strengthen their little antennas and attune them to what is right for them.
The one thing I do worry about with all the technology around us - is the constant need to be connected. There are very rare moments when we are not connected in some way to the world around us and we need to take conscious steps to give ourselves the chance to unplug whenever we can. Meditation is routinely sited as the number one practice we can all do to improve our lives - bring about more happiness and less stress. If we can instil in our children the habit of meditation, we would know for certain we have given them a self-help tool that they could always fall back on.
I have always wanted to meditate. Coming from a background of obsessively reading self-help books since I was a teenager (Chopra, Dyer, Cohen, Tolle) I have learnt how important meditation is for the mind. However apart from the odd month here and there, I have never quite managed the daily commitment long-term. Knowing that leading by example is the best way to teach, my failure has led me to look to exterior help for my own children.
Waybuloo, a programme shown on CBeebies featuring meditation and yoga is absolutely what I have been searching for. Thanks to watching this programme, my daughter understands exactly what yoga and meditation is and she is unafraid and happy to join in when I attempt sessions at home. She can now do twenty minutes of concentrated yoga and five minutes of meditation at the young age of two years, which is more than I can do at thirty-seven.
If I continue the good work of encouraging her (and myself), I am hoping it will become so ingrained in her psyche that these practices will become habits. So thank you to Peppa and Nok Tok and Bing (if any of these names mean anything to you then you certainly watch CBeebies) because TV can, if we want it to, help us to give our children the exact things we fear it might take away from them. For me this also includes something as trite as a day at a commercial theme park - leading to a memory my husband and I will cherish forever.