Tablets and Notebooks shouldn’t be a tool to pacify children, experts say
A clinical professor at Yale Child Study Centre has advised parents against the use of devices such as tablets and notebooks to calm young children down.
In response to a question from a participant at the Parenting workshop entitled ‘I Can’t Get My Child to Behave! Best Practices for Setting Limits with Young Children,’ Dr. Michael Kaplan explained that early interaction of parents with children, and not devices, is the most important way of directly affecting your child’s behaviour and brain development. Therefore, parents should not rely and use electronic devices for this purpose.
“Human interactions during the first few years of a child are crucial,” Dr. Kaplan said. “Overly depending on such devices creates a false sense of satisfaction and wrong impression on the child whenever there is something that troubles them. Such devices do not really address the emotional and intellectual development of the child, but simply provide a temporary form of distraction over the real cause of their stress.”
In emphasizing the value of human intervention and interaction in early childhood development, Dr. Kaplan noted that such is not limited only to a child’s parents.
“Parents are not the only ones that contribute to this interaction while raising a child,” Dr. Kaplan explained. “It also includes extended families, relatives, nannies and caregivers.”
In cases where a child has already developed a preference to spend time with an electronic device over interacting with parents, Dr. Kaplan endorsed the importance of setting limits.
“By setting limits for children, parents, relative and other individuals can improve their relationship with their children and positively influence a child’s development. However, we need to make sure our interaction with our children is calm, predictable, consistent and firm in order to be effective,” D. Kaplan further explained.
The workshop encouraged parents to set limits for children as it helps them to establish and create boundaries, build a sense of independence, shape their identity and help them develop control as well as communicate values.
In collaboration with Yale University, Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation successfully held the last workshop for the first season of the Parenting workshop series, as a part of its Early Childhood Development (ECD) programme.
“The workshop series supported and empowered parents of young children with the understanding and importance of early learning, especially from ages 0-3 years,” said Sheikha Shamsa bint Mohammed Al Nahyan, leader and patron of the Foundation’s Early Childhood Development programme. “Just like a building with a solid foundation, in children the first few years are crucial for setting a strong foundation to ensure later learning, wellbeing, and happiness.”
Hessa Saif is an Emirati National and mother of 5 children who is a regular attendee of the parenting workshops reiterated this point: “There is a misconception that educational learning for young children only starts when they begin going to pre-school institutions. However, that is not the case as the child is always learning and there should be no such gap. The child is always learning from their first and most important teacher- the parents.”
“We as parents are a big asset to the child’s development and ultimately our children are a reflection of us,” said Khawla Saleh, an Emirati National and workshop attendee.
“The workshops have served as a credible source for my husband and I to better understand our son’s development as well as reaffirm our parenting beliefs.”
The Parenting Workshop series held from 6 January 2014 till 6 May 2014, has covered topics such as ‘Nurturing Our Children: How Parents Support their Child’s Development’, ‘Creating Emotionally Intelligent Homes’, ‘Fathers as Partners in Raising Young Children’, and ‘Creating a Healthy Environment: Strategies for Promoting Nutrition and Physical Activity in Young Children.’
Dr. Kaplan’s workshop was held at Manarat Al Saadiyat, Saadiyat Island Cultural District in Abu Dhabi on 5 May 2014 and at the Al Ain Rotana Hotel on 6 May 2014. Both workshops, which started at 5 pm, were free-of-charge and open to the public.