I have a 5-year-old son who is very fond of playing make-believe characters. I often see him pretending to be Optimus Prime of Transformers or sometimes Captain America. Problem is, he translates it to real life situations like when he is tired, he would say, "You need to recharge me." or "Press my power button" or "I need my power drink." Is this normal?
Children who are 5 years old cannot differentiate between what is real and what is make-believe. For this reason, I only allow my children to watch programs that are educational or have high entertainment value, but always keeping in mind that whatever they are watching, they will emulate. I want my children to emulate respect for others, gratitude, kindness, diligence, and a whole lot of other good character qualities.
I would encourage you to replace the "Transformers" programs with "Barney" and other programs that your son can better relate to in the "real world". He will benefit more from educational programming than cartoons meant to simply entertain.
I know I must be giving my son so much TV time. It is just so hard to keep them away from it when all other kids are doing the same thing. But of course you are right, we just have to exert more effort entertaining them in other ways. I will keep your advice in mind.
Excellent advise from Kate above.
It is developmentally normal for a child of your son's age to play pretend/ make-believe for a significant proportion of the day! As Kate says, if you change some of his activities then he will involve these in the pretend play.
I know it can be hard to entertain young children. However, I try to remind myself each day that these are precious years and time that I will not get back with my children. Therefore, I would try to limit TV to no more than 45 minutes a day at this age.
Here are some ways you can try to limit the TV use.
- Be aware of where you have a TV. It is best to keep a TV in just one room, rather than having it on throughout the day in the kitchen.
- Allow your child to watch a specific TV program rather than just watching the TV - the later can easily result in hours of TV watched.
- Watch TV with your child - interact with them, talk about the characters in the show.
- Don't have the TV on as background noise - it is better to use the radio for this.
- Plan when and what you will watch.
Here are a few of my ideas for ways to keep a 5 year old entertained that don't involve sitting in-front of the TV.
- Plan and make a meal together. Involve your child in every part of the meal planning process so that they enjoy seeing how the meal evolves and then enjoy eating it together!
- Create your own assault course around the house or garden. You could use big stones to jump between or make a tunnel to crawl through. 5 year old boys are full of energy - you could time them to complete the course and then see if they can beat their time.
- Make a family scrap-book together: use photos, draw pictures and save tickets/ programmes from days out to collate into a memorial piece of work.
- Explore the local parks and wildlife - take a picnic and meet friends.
The possibilities are endless - soon you won't be able to fit any TV watching in! I find that if you want to break a habit if you make one small change a day then in a month's time you will be close to reaching your goal.
Do let us know how you get on.
I'm so glad LJ jumped in here to give you some ideas about other things you can do with your son instead of using the TV as a "babysitter".
And here's another thread that will give you more ideas about activities you can do with your child.