Thursday, October 11, 2012

Real life lessons

I recently read a blog post by one of my close blogging buddies on the lessons that Nemo has taught her lil girl. It was such an insightful post, that it also got me thinking hard. Of the kind of videos that the kids are watching, and the values that they are gleaning from them. The kids go through different phases of watching a particular DVD ad nauseum (for me, but it entertains them each time!) Right now, the DVDs that are getting maximum playback in our house are Madagascar 2, Finding Nemo and our most recent buys – VeggieTales! Surprisingly, Jay never enjoyed VeggieTales when he was younger, but now, he is amused by the talking veggies. Thankfully there was a recent kids’ sale at our church bookstore, so I got 3 DVDs for a good price!

But back to teaching lessons.

The hubby has some more, erm, avant-garde views on how to teach the kids. So instead of using the more, you know, sanitized and child-friendly Disney cartoons out there, he prefers to tell it as it is.

Jay was probably about 3 years old when the hubby showed him this video.

Jay was at a refusing to eat his meals and yet asking for snacks phase of his life. Which is probably what a lot of kids go through. And previously, we’ve already instituted a no-snack-after-dinner policy, so that he would learn to eat his proper dinner. Unfortunately there were some loopholes in that policy (read: over-indulgent grandparents). So to teach him the importance of treasuring his meals, the hubby showed him this. To show him that there are so many unfortunate people in the world who will literally eat our leftovers. (Mind you, this video isn’t easy to watch!)

I don’t recommend this to every kid, but for Jay, for his inquisitive mind, this video was a real eye-opener, and for days after that he would be asking us questions on the video.

And he also made the effort to gulp down his dinner.

It was a couple of days ago, when Jay was trying to wheedle his way into getting more toys, more biscuits, more videos, and generally just wanted MORE of everything. The hubby wanted to show him the movie Slumdog Millionaire to also open his eyes to children and people who weren’t getting MORE and yet learning to live within their means.

We saw a copy at our nearby video rental store, and yes, we borrowed and spent a night watching it.

It was tough. There were some scenes which isn’t very suitable for young children, like when Jamal’s mother got killed by the angry mob (which we had to explain to Jay) and where a child beggar had his eyes burnt so that he could earn more money (that was tough for Jay). I had watched the movie before, and so I also knew the kind of scenes that would be coming up and made sure I sat with Jay all through the show.

Lessons we told Jay that day, as the movie was played:

  • Be thankful to be living in Singapore, where there are no slums, and where it is safe.
  • Be mindful of the not-as-wealthy living amongst us, and be thankful for what you have. Learn to give to them and be kind to them.
  • Be careful when outside (and make sure you always stay within sight of Daddy and Mummy), as you never know what might happen should you get taken away by “bad people.”

Now, I think there are easier ways to teach the kids these lessons. But somehow, the cartoons don’t “speak” to my little boy as much as real-life people and circumstances do. I (and the hubby) do note that there are some schools of thought and parents who believe that we should not expose the children to this at such a young age. For us, we felt supervised exposure was fine – meaning we were the ones to introduce this to them, and we would be watching with them. The point is not to give them nightmares. It is to show them a slice of reality. Of cos, Xav is much too young to even understand these videos, so he is not involved. Yet.

How about you, any stories to share on the methods you use to teach your kids? I welcome your Talkative Thursdays link-ups!


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Sherry Reese said...

Again, I read your words and think we could be twins! You and I share so many of the same views on parenting. I love all the videos the kids are into now, and my oldest has also loved them. Nemo was never a favorite of his because I think it made him sad (he's very sensitive, and I don't think he liked that Nemo got taken from his daddy...he is a daddy's boy). I love Veggie Tales, and one of them in particular will bring me to tears every time, and I recommend it to all parents. It is the "God Made You Special" compilation. Some of the songs and stories are just so sweet and teach such wonderful lessons about God's love for us and His desire for us to freely choose to love Him. "You're special because God made you" and "A gift that's demanded is no gift at all." I also agree with your and your husband's parenting technique of introducing those hard lessons to them about the world around them. They are eventually going to be exposed to the harsher realities of this world where it is not always pleasant, and it is better if they hear about it from the ones who love them and care for them first so it doesn't come as such a shock. I think kids who grow up shut off from the world and live in "ivory towers" where everything is always perfect and handed to them on a silver platter are going to have a hard time adjusting to a world where they will likely have to work hard to be self-sufficient. Thank you, again, for these words that always touch my heart! If I ever get to visit Singapore, I am going to have to look you up. :-)

Madeline Heng said...

I feel supervised exposure is good for the kids! Parents need to start speaking the hard stuff to their children and that's what they learn best. Sooner or later they will be exposed to it anyway, might as well do it under YOUR control! Haha.

Dominique Goh said...

I too am for teaching the child that life is not a bed of roses and there are people who are worst off then we are. To be appreciative and value what they have is something which has to be taught to them from young.

Serenely said...

Finally found time to watch the video. It was indeed very hard to watch. I do struggle with getting my son to finish his meals sometimes... he might still be a bit young to understand the video (21 months) but your tips on getting kids to understand how fortunate they are is something I will keep in mind

June said...

These are some hard lessons, San! But it's so encouraging to know you guys make the effort to teach Jay about being grateful and not taking what we have for granted. I suppose this can also be extended to sharing and being generous to others who need help too! :)