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Week: 524.4 Guest: Charlene Uhl, Child Advocate. Topic: Helping Children Deal with Violent Play - One Part Host: Steve Girard Producer: Ed Graham

NEMA: If you have children, you know how hard it is to get them to do something, or to stop doing something....think how difficult it is for early childhood educators to steer kids away from exhibiting the violence they may see on TV everyday. Charlene Uhl of the Ready at Five Partnership of Maryland says a new guide on how to deal with violent play among pre school kids was spurred by a void in practical tools available to teachers in Head Start, pre-school and kindergarten....Charlene, you found strong examples of what TV violence does to educational process...and overall mental health...

UHL: "What we found is that it interfered with the healthy development of children. Children first learn by imitating things, they see what their parents do, they see what's on television...mimicry. The next, normal developmental cycle would be that a child starts to creatively imagine a storyline, a series of activities, etc. What more and more early childhood educators were seeing, is that television violence and the viewing of it by young children - two, three and four year olds - was short-circuiting that development. It was essentially freeze-framing children in imitative play, and they didn't move beyond it. They were no longer moving into the creative cycle, which is absolutely critical. It would also interfere with language, because again, language is putting together thoughts and concepts, and sharing that, communicating that, through talking. That was something really alarming early childhood educators, not only that aggressive interaction, but it was also interfering with children's healthy development."

NEMA: What does the guide, which I understand was developed with the help of psychologists, educators, business leaders and parents, offer the educator....

UHL: "In addition to ways to redirect children's behavior away from aggressive play, it also seeks to help an early childhood educator develop creative thinking and play among young children...help them move beyond that short circuit that had been created by viewing TV violence....and let me give you a technique that parents can use at home too, in the same kind of educational mode. When you see the kind of repetitive play that is imitative and the like, you can...and children love to answer questions...you can say, "Well, what are you doing?", and then they describe it. Or maybe they'll even tell you a storyline. You can stop them and say, "Oh, OK, it ended this way...how else could it end? What else could blank' character have done"? And it takes a little practice when children are not used to that, and you're trying to break, again, that imitative, rote-back what happened. But children, they're naturally creative...if you ask them a question, you start to lead them into new ways of doing it. That can be done at home by a parent, that can be done as well by an early childhood educator"

NEMA: Forecasting the effects TV violence may have on youngsters, a local hospital joined in your efforts to help educators......

UHL: We have a large shock trauma center here in Baltimore, and they see the effects of violence every single day, and they understand that violence is a public health issue. So they were looking for a way that they could get involved in prevention. The played a major role in helping us get funding to produce the guide, in giving us insights on prevention and other things.....and so its an unusual partner, but yet a very natural partner when you're looking at violence prevention."

NEMA: When you realize kids form their attitudes on education before the age of five, you know its in their best interest to make sure TV violence doesn't blunt their ability to solve problems in a non violent way...or prevent children from doing their best learning. The book is called, "Moving Young Children's Play Away From TV violence: A How- to Guide for Early Childhood Educators"...from the Ready at Five Partnership in Baltimore, MD. I'm Steve Girard.

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Last modified: November 01, 2021