Tuesday, 21 October 2014

FAT KIDS, FAT EGOS

Hold onto your hat - I'm about to rant. Feel free to disagree with me.
A Personal vacuum - We've become a society of narcissists, thinking mostly of ourselves, focusing upon our individual rights and not the good of others. I see it all the time - people seem to live in a personal vacuum, walking around plugged in to some device, never actually speaking to each other. When someone is attacked in public, onlookers don't get out their phones to dial for help, they start filming, uploading to youtube for their moment of fame. Has this become the general direction of humankind?
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Our Western culture has given this to the world - 'self esteem.' It goes far beyond the healthy confidence it was designed to imbue. It's self-obsession. How did it come to this? TV, TV and TV.

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Role Models - Let's examine for a moment the role models that are presented to our children: Pop stars and reality TV stars. We admire them, talk ceaselessly about them, discuss every fragment of their lives, pouring over poorly worded magazine articles and blurry photographs as if these people are inspiring and intelligent; worthy of our adoration, when in truth they're empty-headed, self-absorbed, whining, vindictive and petty. When do we actually see or hear of people who are truly inspiring, who sacrifice themselves for the greater good, or to help others? When do we discuss people who have achieved amazing things in this world, against all odds? We rarely do. The closest we get is the sports report and its more about which player got caught using drugs to enhance their amazing performance  At the end of the news bulletin, along with the cute baby animals, there's a ten second grab about some accidental hero, by which time we're standing in front of the microwave waiting for our high calorie dinner to cook or the kettle to boil. We're disengaged.

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A Family Dinner - Australia now has the dubious honour of being the country with the second fastest growing obesity rate IN THE WORLD. We're also the country with loads of sunshine, gorgeous pristine beaches and superb weather for outdoor sports. Huh? People scratch their heads, wondering how this could happen. I can tell you. It's on TV. Every night there are ads, around dinner time, showing happy families settling down to meals which are composed entirely of 'fast food,' be it fried chicken, pizza or globular foods I find difficult to identify. What the hell happened to people cooking from raw ingredients? Oh, right, they go on TV to cook in Masterchef 'competitions' and become famous.

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An Appetite for violence - No more does it take a village to raise a child. It just takes TV. Or more to the point, advertisers selling their crap to our kids, poisoning their young minds, molding them as consumers long before they get their first credit card. No more do extended family have a role to play in their upbringing. Heck, not even their fathers get to do that, with the spiralling divorce rate and estrangement of parents from their children. Children live from TV show to TV show, with an endless appetite for shallow meaningless tripe, smack-em-in-the-face computer generated violence, sitting there,with their mouth open and their brains out of gear. And we wonder why they are fat and bad tempered!

Dr Michele Borba article
As if that weren't bad enough, there are actual human beings who disbelieve that TV, movies and video games have any effect upon the human psyche. And yet advertisers spend gazillions on thrusting their products at us for exactly that reason. It works! And here's a point to consider - if they can influence our buying habits, don't you think they can influence our morals?

Lame School - Schools, particularly primary schools, try valiantly to fight against this slide into depravity. But do-gooders have thwarted their efforts, by banning sports and 'dangerous' activities such as running in the playground, hopscotch and ball games. Instead, kids as young as six have iphones. What the hell for?
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Our kids are not just mentally passive, a puddle of drool around them as they sit facing the TV, they are also physically passive, getting fatter by the day. The lack of physical exercise makes them bad tempered, because they can't release pent up energy. Their bodies are weakened, with  poor muscle tone, poor posture, poor strength and flexibility. No wonder kids channel their frustrations into fighting and yelling.

But hey, they're fast on google.




Kids and Anxiety - How reading helps

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It's such an old fashioned idea, but reading to your child at bedtime is still a very strong way to show your love and reduce anxiety. There are multiple benefits you may not have thought about -
  1. Settling down - It's quiet time, just before lights out, which helps settle them before sleep. This improves sleep quality and helps to eliminate bedtime dramas.
  2. Special attention - It provides one-on-one time, to perhaps discuss any concerns that pop up in the conversation. A child loves having your full attention, to themselves, in the privacy of their room. Make the most of it!
  3. Increased confidence - It substantially improves a child's vocabulary to hear the structure and language of stories. This translates to their own vocabulary as they increase their understanding of spoken words and incorporate them into their spoken language. The follow-on effect is becoming more articulate, allowing the child to express their concerns better and increasing their confidence.
  4. Improved School results - Children who read independently cope much better with the demands of school. The first step is being read to, and if the book is really exciting, they can't wait to get their eyes on it in the morning! Having a love of reading is the key to success in any area of endeavour, any career.
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  5. Teaching values - It provides opportunities to share books with important morals and lessons. How else will children learn the values we treasure, such as honesty, sharing, cooperation, acceptance? There are hundreds of fabulous books which are not just written to entertain. Let's get back to books being fun and important social/cultural tools.
  6. Self-awareness - One of the things which worries kids most is the fear of being different, not accepted.Stories allow your child to identify with characters and perhaps feel less different from others.
  7. A big World - Books open up a child's mind, to the many amazing wonders of our world. In a book they can travel to distant places, even distant times in the past, learning, growing, understanding. 
  8. Understanding others - Stories help children see things from another's perspective. Truly great stories tell more than just a sequence of events, they tell a character's journey, whether it be physical or emotional.
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So, why not enjoy some quality time with your child tonight? Don't let the cost turn you off either. There's plenty of second hand book websites, such as abebooks and book depository. You are investing in your child's future and enhancing your relationship. There's no downside!