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To TV or Not TV? That is the Question

by verdemama on November 13, 2011

This is a child’s brain on TV

I used to be one of those people who thought when I became a parent I’d never allow my child to watch TV. Fast forward a few years later, and once again I’m laughing manically at my former idealistic (and cluelessly judgmental) self. The reality is, I do let Orion watch a little bit of television—usually in the form of educational videos, sometimes in the form of whatever the hell happens to be on Nick Jr. at the time. But never more than an hour, and not every day. Just enough to make me feel super guilty and wonder if I’m ruining my kid for life.

Orion is not the kind of toddler who likes to hang by himself—he always wants me to play with him and partake in whatever activity he’s into at the moment. Which I enjoy… to an extent. (I mean, I can only play with trucks for so many thousands of hours before I start to go a little nuts.) But it’s also nice to have a few seconds to tend to my own needs—you know, little things, like peeing or brushing my teeth. Watching TV is the one thing he doesn’t mind doing alone and I always pounce on the opportunity to either a.) shower, or b.) make dinner. Frankly, he enjoys TV, and is learning his letters and numbers thanks to educational videos, and I get a few moments to do what I need to do. It’s a win-win situation. Except it isn’t.

Our problem is, when it comes time to turn off the TV. He freaks out. FUH-REAKS. Not every time, but often enough to make me really question allowing him to watch any TV at all. It’s like a drug, TV is, and he’s a two-year-old junkie. Now he asks to watch “TD” almost every day, and can turn into a screamy crazy monster if I say no.

So, what’s a parent to do? I try to limit the tantrums by only allowing him to watch DVDs—which have a definite end, as opposed to Nick Jr., which airs one show after the other forever and ever and ever. The finiteness of a DVD makes it easier for Orion to transition into the next activity without making a fuss.

Other than banning television altogether, which is pretty unlikely now that it’s been introduced, what are your tips for taming the TV monster? (Full disclosure: my child spends 99% of his day playing, often outside, and is by no means a couch potato TV zombie. Just so you know.) We’ve tried setting timers, etc., which sometimes works.

What are your thoughts on this? How do you handle TV watching (or lack thereof)?

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