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Help, my toddler is addicted to TV

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
We took the TV out of the bedroom (we have a family bed) last weekend because I am sick of hearing my 2.5 year old son scream for Max & Ruby (last month it was Caillou, the month before it was Thomas, etc...). I thought it would help if there was only one tv in the house. Of course now he doesn't want to ever leave the living room (location of our sole tv).

I desperately try to get him interested in other things (playing outside, fingerpainting, building blocks, play doh, etc...), but he won't stop crying for the tv. I gave in almost 2 hours ago, and now I'm crying. I hate watching this zombie take over my child, but I can't stand his tears. He cries uncontrollably until I turn it on. He won't let me hold him or kiss him while he cries. Basically, I'll have to let him "cry it out".

Is there a way to wean him off of the TV, or do I have to let him cry it out? He has thrown a couple of tantrums in the bedroom because the tv was gone, but he was consoled by the fact that there was still a tv available.

Last year at this time, I couldn't keep him in the house. He wanted to be outside in the warming Spring air. What happened?

I must confess that I am a recovering TV addict. I spent countless hours watching junk tv as a kid, and I really don't want that to happen to him.

I'm so glad I found this forum. I know there isn't an easy answer. I guess I just need to vent to some sympathetic ear.

- Amy
(Mom to one beautiful, spirited 2.5 year old boy.)
post #2 of 12
I know that it is difficult, but you are doing the right thing for your child.

Think of it this way, if your DS didn't want to ride in his car seat when you were driving somewhere, and he fussed, and cried, and carried on, you would still make him ride in the car seat because it is vital to his safety. This is a similiar issue - you are the Mommy and you make rules to keep him healthy.

In your shoes, I'd plan a few days out of the house - leave after breakfast and come back around nap time, if he can't see the TV, he might not worry about it so much.

Good luck to you!!
post #3 of 12
Days out of the house--my thought exactly.

Keep moving. Toss or closet/basement/attic-ize the tv. I know others can but I can't be tv-free with the box right there glaring at me.

This is hard I know, but I have never implemented a change (about bedtime, dinner-time behavior, adding chores, stopping computer games) where the pain for the kdis lasted more than a few days. I promise. And there have been quite a few. Comfort, distract, keep him busy, get a little help for some respite for yourself, and give it a little time.

GL--it's worth it,
post #4 of 12
I can empathize with your situation. Before DH and I had really weighed the consequences, we began playing videos and watching Sesame Street and Yo Gabba Gabba with our LO when he was just over a year old. After a few months of watching TV, I noticed that he began wanting to watch more and more... I knew that this was not a good thing. So in addition to not having a television in our bedroom, my husband suggested the idea that we take all of the movies and put them in the closet (out of sight, out of mind).
Since we have done this, it has been a 100% improvement, though I won't lie and tell you there was no adjustment period, because there was. I just had to keep us really busy, and that means basically scheduling an outing every day (like a PP suggested), which really made the TV-weaning go pretty smoothly. I remember that just seeing the TV in the living room was difficult for him- he would point at it and say "That?" and disintegrate quickly unless I could distract him. I would just be really melodramatic about how AMAZING this book I was reading was, and eventually he would get interested in what I was doing and read with me. Sometimes if he was really fixated, I would lead him into the kitchen to let him bang on the bowls and pots, which is always a winner. This transition didn't happen overnight- it took a few weeks of creativity and consistency on my part. But eventually, he was back to loving his books and creative play.
But I will say that we still do watch a movie with DS occasionally, which in true moderation (i.e. not frequently at all), I don't believe it is detrimental as long as the movie is totally appropriate material for a LO. I think the point is that we watch it with him; we don't use the TV as a babysitter.
Good luck with TV weaning!
post #5 of 12
Thread Starter 
Thanks so much for the advice. He had a 30 minute crying jag last night, but he finally relented to have nummies (breastfeed) and all was well. He's only asked for it once today. It finally stopped raining here in NY, so we spent several hours in the backyard. I called a couple of friends who have sons the same age as my son, and they are more than willing to come over & distract him whenever I need it.

I also just scheduled a Mother's Helper to come by after school a couple of afternoons every week. At least he still prefers the company of new people to the TV.

I think we will be getting rid of the Living Room TV as well. We can always drag it out if we want to have a family movie night or my husband wants to watch a football game.

Yesterday we walked into town to visit the Library. I checked out The Big Turn-Off and am currently devouring it. Oh how I wish I had chucked the tvs from the beginning.
post #6 of 12
Such great news! You sound totally ready.

And he's only 2.5. It really is still the beginning.
post #7 of 12
we're getting rid of our TV soon too!

we're just noticing that there's really nothing on, and now that hawk notices the TV (i nursed in front of the TV a lot when i couldn't read another word!), we are concerned.

we mostly use it for movies, and we figure that we could use our computer for that, and use the projector that we have to place it big on the wall. that's the plan for now anyway, when we want to watch a movie.
post #8 of 12
It sounds like you are getting things figured out.. I had a horrible time with my 3y.o. but we bought a tv armoire so we can shut the doors, have it on a plug strip that we can switch everything off and the bottom half is full of toys.

I also invested in water colors, play dough, crayons, markers and we do alot of crafts. Mine also likes to help in the kitchen... he likes the kitchen aid mixer to make pizza dough or cookies.. he gets to dump ingredients in.

When the weather warms up more you won't be able to keep him inside!!

good luck and keep it up
post #9 of 12
Thread Starter 


I am the original poster with the addicted toddler, and I wanted to give a progress report. It's been 10 days since we've been tv free (all tvs in the closet), and it's been fantastic!

The first 2 days we had a total of 2 meltdowns that each lasted 15 minutes. Since then, he did ask for his favorite show a few more times, but he hasn't requested it in a week.

The change in my son is unbelievable! He's so much happier and calmer. If someone told me that getting rid of the tv would make such a difference in his behavior, I would not have believed them. Even his play has become more imaginitive.

Luckily for me, DH is extremely supportive. He's even reading The Big Turnoff (I devoured that book & Living Outside of the Box). I thought I would miss my favorite shows, but I find I just don't care about them. I'm having too much fun with my son.

Thanks for all of the support. My playgroup thought I was crazy & lazy (i.e. I just needed to have a firm hand with the tv time limit).

Now I can start reading all of the books that have been collecting dust on my "to read" bookshelf.

- Amy:
post #10 of 12
This really, really is NOT complicated to solve! You get rid of the TV, ASAP, totally rid of it, not in a closet but into the trash outside. Get it off your property, today.

YOur toddler will be a thousand times better off for it. TV is so awful for humans of any age.
post #11 of 12

I have two kids and Im always worried about what TV can show them. That is why I feel safer when they watch what I decide, like interactive games of cartoons characters. They have been lately checking http://www.youtube.com/kidgamestv and I think is one of the channels with content for the kids entertainment and learning.

post #12 of 12

@vegcatlover , I am so encouraged by your progress! I hope you've kept up the good work. You're welcome to check out the group TV Free and Loving It here on Mothering for more ideas and encouragement.

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