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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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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Cat November 14, 2011 at 7:18 am

Well I’ve only been a parent for 3 weeks now and obviously don’t have experience with a toddler watching tv, but I was thinking that maybe you could set a timer and let him know that when the alarm goes off so does the tv. Maybe by giving a time limit Orion would have a better understanding of what is expected and be more willing to go along with the plan. Oh, I just though of an add on to that. Have another planned activity once the alarm goes off. Something he likes to do, so the tv being turned off isn’t too aweful and he has something else to look forward to? Anyway. Good luck.


verdemama November 14, 2011 at 3:57 pm

OMG, you had your baby! Congratulations!! Send me some details: I hope everything is going well. :)


Angela Talbot November 14, 2011 at 8:01 pm

Advance warnings work well for us…i.e " when this show is all done we are going to let the TV rest and turn it off"


Denise November 15, 2011 at 9:42 am

It sounds like you are doing exactly what I would do and what I remember my parents doing with us (timer, educational t.v. etc). I think the whole situation is actually great because you get to help Orion learn how to control “addictions” while he is young and how to make appropriate decisions and choices. You go momma! Just think how well adjusted he will be as a teen. ;)
We are going to have a t.v. Monster too I think. Denae already loves watching football. I secretly think that it is actually just the screen she likes, not the actual football.


Jen November 15, 2011 at 6:18 pm

My problem is that my husband LOVES TV so he see's no problem with it being on all.the.time. Now our 2 year old freaks when it isn't on. Even for the 2 minutes when he is done his bath and is getting his PJ's on (because my husband started to put the TV on for him during that time). My goal is to "wean" him while I am off at Christmas. I hate it right now and it makes me feel like a failure. Half the time he isn't interested in what is on anyways but since my husband insists on having it on….it is always in the background.

I have started to plan lots of activities out of the home to help just get us away from the TV. Last Saturday we went for a nature walk and we had a blast.

Is it mean if I tell my husband that if he wants to watch TV he needs to go into another room to watch it so our son isn't around it?

Looking forward to seeing the other suggestions you get because we sure could use the help too.


verdemama November 15, 2011 at 8:17 pm

Maybe turn on some music your son likes so he doesn’t immediately notice the TV is turned off? That is, indeed, a tough predicament. Best of luck to you!


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