Simplicity Parenting Book Club, Chapter Six

Well that was an unprecedented pause from chapters. Hopefully everyone is caught up and plowing through the final pages of the book by know. It's been a great read, I must say.

Like other chapters in Simplicity Parenting, this one struck a nerve several times. This chapter, though, is less simple and concrete to apply to our day to day lives. At least the changes that I need to make. Filling a box with books and clothes and toys is one thing. But filtering out the adult world is woven with so much of our own inner work it seems like a big one to take on.





 Simplicity Parenting, Kim John Payne

Chapter Six: Filtering Out the Adult World

Chapter six was a broad, expansive one. From parental hovering and worry to television and media to sarcasm to too many words, there is lots to digest here.

For me, the screens, media, and news talk is easy. It is a non-issue around here. We don't do movies, television, radio, computers, or magazines for entertainment. We never have. You read that right. We don't do media. It is a slippery slope I never wanted to step onto so we haven't. 

Two experiences when Sage was under two shaped that decision. They are these:

1.  I was an NPR junkie for years before becoming a mother. I listened to it like you might listen to music. Constantly. And then one day when Sage was nearly two I turned on the radio and one horrible graphic sentence hung in the air. It was a war report from Iraq and I turned the radio on and off in one quick motion when I heard those words isolated from all the other talk. I was stunned. Horrified. What was I doing? My son was hearing this terrible information each and every day. And I knew that a one year old understood 90% of what he or she heard. That shook me. I haven't turned on NPR around my children in the seven years since.

2. The second shaping experience had happened a few months before. We had never done TV with or around Sage. We gave ut television a few years before so it was a non-issue.

Pete was leaving for a week away and I wondered how I would eat, bathe, or survive during his absence. A well-meaning and loving friend sent me some Baby Einstein videos to help me through the pinch of his absence. Baby videos were something I never would have bought myself and I was a secretly excited about the prospect of having them – like finding a tub of really sassy ice cream in your freezer after your friends visit. I wouldn't have brought it into my life, but let's not waste it. You get the idea.

I thought maybe I'd use them while Pete was gone, just once or twice during the week to get a shower in. But I wanted to see how Sage would handle them first. We dug out a DVD player we had and an ancient TV from the attic. We put the disc in. And an amazing/disturbing thing happened. Sage was first excited. He smiled and bounced to the music. He signed the animals he saw: dog, cat, rabbit. And then ever so slowly, the joy drained from his face and he sat staring, expressionless. He stopped dancing. He stopped signing. He zoned out. This took all of maybe 30 or 40 seconds, but that was all it took. I took out the disc, threw them back into the box and sent them away forever. I don't remember if I showered that week, but I wasn't willing to numb my boy on TV so I could wash up. He could shower with me. I could wash up at the sink. But that glazed eyed look on my baby was not worth it to me in any form.

Instead of Instead of screens or other media we read books. We play. We draw. We bike. We live our lives in other ways.

That being said, I am not the typical American mama. I think for most families limiting screens is a huge step towards more simple parenting. What about in your home?



There were indeed parts fo chapter six that spoke to me regarding areas where Pete and I could make great strides. We talk too much. (Way too much.) We worry too much. (Now and then.) We don't filter as well as we could. (Frequently.) There is always room for improvement and for us it is here. These are the places where we need to work on filtering out the adult world. We also run a home-based business and homeschool, so there isn't much time or space away from our children to carve out time to have adult conversation. We need to stay aware of what we say and when and make time happen apart from the kids.

I have long loved the very Waldorf approach of not complimenting or critiquing my children's experiences. I am not silent and nodding as they run to me to share something, but I have worked hard to quiet the compliments or value-laden statements that pour forth over each cartwheel and drawing. I want the experience to be the joy in itself – not my response to what they have done that feeds their souls. I lean towards, "Tell me about this picture." or "You have been drawing many different animals lately." Simple observations.

How do you do on filtering out the adult world? Share with us.

21 thoughts on “Simplicity Parenting Book Club, Chapter Six

  1. Beth says:

    Two quick things – my 17 mo old is obsessed with the tv this week. Constantly bringing me the remote and trying to make me put it on for him. Throwing tantrums when I don’t. I’ve tried distraction but only works briefly. All day long. Ideas?
    Second – after reading unconditional parenting I’ve changed from “good job” (praise) to “you did it” (acknowledgment, internal realization they accomplished the thing). Builds self esteem vs needing external praise. Along the same lines as you are doing it sounds like, Rachel. My husband thinks it’s crazy to not praise our son. So from him he gets praise and from mom, acknowledgemet.

  2. Michelle says:

    I loved this book as well. Filtering is my biggest thing I have been working on. I really liked what you said about wanting the eperience to be the joy in itself not my response to it. Great advice to me this day.

  3. Cheryl says:

    Out of sight out of mind. If you can move it, great. If for whatever reason you don’t think that’s the right step for you then hide it. A sheet over tube or a friend of mine has her tv in the living room but puts a room screen in front of it so it’s not a focal point. Remote too, get it out of reach. You could also spend as little time as possible in that room. When we were making the transition I always gently said “we don’t watch videos anymore” and offered something fun to do instead. Usually that something was an activity I was involved in at first. It took us under a week and the requests stopped here and my son is only a little older. Good luck!!

  4. Cheryl says:

    The media was the easiest part for us to cut out, it wasn’t at all painful like I thought it would be. I feel like I still spend too much time with my smart phone and popping on and off the computer during the day. Trying to juggle my business and the kids isn’t easy, but I know I could do a better job of it. Working on that and like you mention talking less. It’s easy to get swept up in conversations with my husband especially right when he gets home from work and we both unload our days. Just have to stay mindful, some days are better than others in that regard 🙂

  5. Beth says:

    Great idea Cheryl. I think I’ll throw the one in my office into the basement. (thats the one he can reach and is in the same room as his toys) And find a new hiding spots for the remotes for the other one. That would greatly reduce screen time for both of us. He was awesome at keeping himself occupied while i was working. It’s like a switch flipped and he couldn’t think of anything but tv.

  6. Dessi says:

    I removed the TV from the house…well not completely. We have an apartment that is separate from the main house and we only for guests. I put the TV in the apartment, that way my TV loving husband can escape there from time to time and satisfy his addiction, but the kids can’t get there w/out us. that may not work for you…maybe put the TV in a cabinet, or change it’s place and cover with a cloth. but for that to work you must not uncover it in front of baby – or it is not going to work.

  7. Sheridan says:

    We were never big tv people, but when we started at our waldorf school this year, we cut down to media only on weekends. It has improved our family life so much. My 13 year old LOVES it, my 10 year old misses it and my 5 year old doesn’t really think about media any more.

  8. Beth says:

    I am new to this blog. I stumbled upon it a few weeks ago. I love it! But, I haven’t read this book that you’re studying. Now, I’m very interested. I don’t have a TV, so my two and a half year old and 16 month old have never gotten in the habit of watching it. I definitely see other forms of media in their lives though. Advertising has a huge effect on them. A Target toys flyer came in the mail last week. My oldest loves it. He has poured over each page telling me what items he wants and even sleeping with the flyer. It is amazing the effect media has on such young children!

    Also, the idea of not praising but acknowledging is new to me. I would love to hear more about it…

  9. Marian says:

    We don’t have a TV at our house. Neither my husband or I had one before we met so it was a non-issue. We watch movies on the computer, but not with the kids yet (they’re 2 and 4). I try to limit my computer use during the day to nap/quiet time and then in a separate room. We have taken our kids to the movies a few times (the oldest one maybe 4 times and the youngest maybe twice). We love movies, so this one is a bit tricky. We make sure to find movies that are okay for their age, which greatly limits the options. But going to the movies is a rare and special outing…I don’t see us doing movie night at home for years yet.
    I do think that given the chance, kids will find things to fill the time without TV/computer/video games much much quicker than we give them credit for…honestly, I do think it would be much more difficult for the adults to break the habit.
    My husband and I do talk, a lot…and lately we have been trying to cut back and wait until the kids are in bed. I think it’s harder for me than for him because when he comes home I feel like I finally get some adult conversation 🙂
    I don’t listen to talk radio much, but I do try to watch what kind of music I listen to…there’s so much inappropriate lyrics! Thankfully our son tends to request bluegrass, which is often instrumental. We also have a kids audio book in the car that we listen to…over, and over, and over 🙂 (I’m just glad it’s 2 CDs long!)
    I agree that this area is trickier than physical and time clutter (though still working on those too!). Maybe part of the reason for it being trickier is that we are so bombarded with media input that as adults we’ve become so good at filtering it out that we don’t realize quite how bad it is for children without those filters. They have TVs with commercials at the grocery store!! I don’t think I registered that until one of the kids asked something about it!

  10. Nancy says:

    This has been a hard one for me too. I worry that he picks up too much; others say that they need to know what’s going on outside their little worlds (ages 1.5 & 4 yrs). At what age do you start talking about the bad stuff out there (not to talk to strangers, etc)? Ditto to what others have said about Waldorf- any book recommendations for those of us new to it?

  11. Angela says:

    We started filtering out the adult world-via news a couple of years ago-the news is too much. My child that worries the most would try to watch it. I try keeping the tv off as much as possible and that is going pretty well. The kids don’t watch commercial tv so that helps tremendously. We limit how much “educational” stuff they can watch due to the zone out factor.
    I did connect with talking and explaining too much. We need to cut back there and I think that has been helpful. I also try not to worry or complain too much in their earshot. That book and chapter were a great gift. I recognized easily how the school was overloading the kids with too many “fun” activities and tried counteracting that at home. It was ridiculous. Thanks so much for hosting this discussion. I have learned so much!

  12. Deborah says:

    My husband and I have a rule that we don’t talk about finances at the dinner table. It is for our sanity as well as the kids’ I think. Clearly, there are other things to filter, but this is a nice starting place for us.

  13. Morgan says:

    We are removing tv from the children’s lives, and I AM SO HAPPY about it. We’re almost tv free. We don’t do game systems at all so that’s not a problem. But filtering! Even from adults in their lives, aunts and uncles, even my conversations with my husband… it’s hard.

  14. KC says:

    We cut out tv long before I read this book. I found when my daughter was three months old that she seem intranced by the lights of thhe screen. So we cancelled cable and never got an antenna. My husband and i only watch movies at night via Netflix. When my daughter is awake we try not use the computer but find that to be hard. She loves loves to look at family photos and knows that they are on computer so she often ask look at them. This is really the only sceen time she gets. Though can it really count as screen time?

    I really found this chapter the most intersting of all. The act of filtering out the adult world takes a huge act of concious effort.

  15. Kyce says:

    The big lesson at our house has been figuring out how to talk about parenting issues away from the kids. Having the self-control to not try to figure things out in front of them, to not discuss their behavior in their hearing. Hard to find the space for this, as so much of it comes up in the moment, but especially as the children grow, it is increasingly important to me.

  16. Casey says:

    The media/TV thing is very hard for me. For the first 18mo or so of my older son’s life, he didn’t get any screen time. None. We started letting him watch a little because of the calming effect it had on him — learning afterwards about his autism, it made sense. It centers him and brings him back from over-stimulation. He is able to focus only on his show or game and it helps him so much. We carefully choose what he is allowed to watch — movies and PBSkids. We’ve also found it to help him relate or model his behavior. Kind of like a moving ‘social story’. That being said, when he is watching a show, so is his little (20mo now) brother…and that I wish I could stop.

  17. Jenny says:

    I find that figuring what to filter out and what to let in is difficult sometimes. We live very near some of the big tornadoes that hit the midwest this spring. Obviously my kids knew about the tornadoes because we were hunkered down in the basement, but we tried not to watch the news coverage of all the destruction in front of them. On the other had there were kids in our homeschooling group that were organizing lemonade stands to raise money for the tornado victims. I’m assuming these kids had seen the news and were inspired to help. Doesn’t that teach compassion for others? Still my children really had no idea that there were victims in need of help.

  18. Sarah says:

    Very Waldorf and very Montessori too. I am a huge fan of ‘you colored that house very red’ kinds of statements instead of ‘what a beautiful house you drew!’, and learned of this concept a decade ago through reading books by Maria Montessori. So very much more empowering for a person, whether child or otherwise. I feel very fortunate that my husband and extended family agree with me in this, even if old habits sometimes die hard for some of us.

    Thanks for your posts, Rachel. I look forward to reading them. I found my way here a couple of months ago, but no longer remember what led me here. I’ve just stayed on… Cheers!

  19. Dakota Gal says:

    This chapter, more than any other, interested me because it contained ideas we’d never thought about before. Limiting possessions, not over-scheduling, finding a rhythm, limiting media, all those were things we were already doing. But things like not talking so much — that really floored me. I’d talked nonstop to our daughter since she was born, narrating our every waking moment. Now she’s three and SHE talks non-stop. She talks so well that it’s hard to remember that she’s not yet a grown-up, and my husband and I often use too many words and explanations where a few would do nicely. Also, was this the chapter that said not to talk about the child’s emotions? (I had to return my book to the library already so I can’t look it up.) That one threw me for a loop, too, because I’ve always tried so hard to help my daughter understand what she’s feeling. Now I see the wisdom in refraining from all that.

  20. Amber says:

    eeeekkkksss! just picked up the simplicity parenting book from my local library. i had resisted when you all had started this book, as my babe is just 6 short months old. i still felt it calling me, and boy, what a great book. I hate that i have missed the book club, but i am going to read these posts back through as i am reading. as a former montessori teacher, this is most familiar, but i am finding that our family would benefit from more of a waldorf environment, (as well as most children in general) as it focuses more heavily on imaginative play.

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