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Help me brainstorm some gentle strategies for setting and enforcing TV limits - Page 2

post #21 of 32
ds had 3h/day of screen time in summer (I really needed him to be quiet while the baby was napping), now that he's in school he has about 30min/day.

What we did: we let him know he had only 3 hours and showed him how to set the kitchen timer, so whenever he was on the computer or TV he would set it for 1h, or 1h30, or whatever he wanted. When he had control of his screen time within the limits I was comfortable with, he quit asking to watch tv all day long. I didn't have to nag him either, I would just let the alarm ring until he turned off the tv.

But he was limited to 3 hours, no exceptions. So he would usually manage his time carefully so he could have screen time throughout the day.

HTH
post #22 of 32
We are having the same problem at our house. I think I'm going to pull the plug. We're about to make a 12 hour road trip, so I plan to allow videos on our travel DVD player in the car. When we get home, there will be no screen time for awhile. My older dd is 3, and the younger one is almost 2 and has just gotten interested in certain videos too.

I started letting the dd1 watch a video here and there when the younger one was born and I was juggling the needs of a newborn and toddler, but things have gotten out of hand. My strategy so far has been to say there will be no TV if there is whining about TV. Also I offer playground visits instead of TV, and they always take me up on that.
post #23 of 32
What I'll add:

When dd here (who's 4) gets too attached to watching tv, I work really hard at planning more out-of-the-house activities (go to bookstore, children's museum, parks, big craft store).

I don't strictly regulate the amount of time we do tv/computer but on our worst regular non-sick days it probably ends up at most 3 - 3.5 hours, and that usually includes something we both watched together, this might happen once every 2 weeks. An average day probably has 2 kid shows.

I do insist we take breaks doing something non-tv related whenever a show ends (for us it's all dvd's or netflix - so everything ends) - and usually that's some helping me do some cleaning/picking up/cooking. If she doesn't want to and the place isn't crazy, I'll offer to get out some toys we don't always have out (like playmobil, or stuff to make things with) for her instead and often that'll end up with her doing stuff quite awhile herself).

Music, or recorded stories are a really good thing to switch away from tv with for us. Having toys that get rotated and aren't always out is a big attraction too.


I'll add, that dd here plays alone much more happily during the phases when she has been watching the least tv. I'd be prepared to offer more 1:1 attention at first when you want to cut tv down and/or out.
post #24 of 32

We use a timer - but I'll add the TV tickets!

Quote:
Originally Posted by StephandOwen View Post
My ds is older than yours (almost 7) but this might work for your kiddo too. We decided that one hour of screen time (tv and computer) is appropriate for him on school days. I made 4 "tickets" (bookmarks in microsoft publisher that I played around with altering slightly). Each ticket can be turned in to me or dp for 15 minutes of screen time. We set a timer so he knows exactly how much time is left. Once his 4 tickets are gone, it's done. No arguments. We are a lot more lenient on weekends and don't use the ticket system, but we do force him outside for most of the day (so today he watched about an hour of tv and played on the computer for about an hour but we played outside in the morning, he went to his soccer and played in the afternoon and then in late afternoon we went for a family walk/run to the grocery store). The ticket system is working well for us
Love this! We also use a timer set for 15-20 minute in the morning and evening, but I like the tickets. Adds a dash of "going to the movies." And I think it might actually help him learn how to budget!
post #25 of 32
I haven't read all the replies. We just did a TV-Detox last month (and that is what I called it even when talking to the kids about it) so I'll just share what went on here. We had gotten into the habit of one or two shows in the morning and one or two in the afternoon, so about 2 hrs a day. I wasn't really happy with that and after reading The Read-Aloud Handbook (which I recommend for EVERY parent) I decided right then that we were doing TV Detox cold-turkey. In the book he talks about the number of hours of screen time per day that kids get and what that amounts to in a year and the numbers are MIND-BOGGLING. Even at 1 hour a day, do I really want my 4.5yo and 2.5yo getting that much TV per year, as opposed to time reading or in creative play?! NO WAY. The author said that when he imposed strict TV limits on his kinds, they literally cried about it for MONTHS. I prepared myself for the worst, but for us it only took a few weeks of them asking constantly to watch a show. Now they rarely ask, and here is the really super thing about this--they are engaging in creative play for much, much longer stretches at a time. They don't NEED the TV. While it may help in a moment, in the long run it is SO much better for your kids to be able to occupy themselves in another way, and they really learn to do that when TV isn't an option.

So, anyway, I just wanted to post to encourage others that this is possible and it reaps great rewards. We went completely cold-turkey off TV and now that the hold is broken, I am fine with putting it on VERY sparingly, like if they are sick and miserable, or if we get a call for a house showing and I am desperate. It is NOT a daily thing, the kids know that, and they don't bug me about it.

We do use the Wii Fit together as a family in the evenings, at most for 30 minutes a day (and not everyday.) They seem to bond with DH doing this and it is a fun, active thing for us, so I am ok with it, even though it is in front of a screen.
post #26 of 32
Personally, I think no more than 30 minutes - 1 hour is acceptable at that age. And honestly, I don't think it should be every day. The APA recommends none until 2 and France doesn't even allow tv designed for under 3s. Your DS is watching a tremendous amount for his age. I think it is quite destructive to the imagination, totally addictive, and really limits play. DS is almost 3.5 and we haven't allowed tv yet. He has a rich imaginative life and although he does like to play with us, he also likes to play by himself. We also have a 14m.

So...my advice is to go cold turkey for six months and reintroduce it in a limited way, if you would like to at that time. You cannot manage the situation now and I don't think any advice on how to say no is going to help a tv addicted toddler. I've read a lot of posts on this topic at the toddler board and almost ever one concludes that cold turkey is the way.

Come up with a new schedule, try and get a bit of extra help if you can, have some scheduled outings lined up (Tuesday is library day, Thursday is play date, Friday is always the park or swimming, etc. ), take 20m at the end of the day and come up with a plan for the next (one baking, two art), let the houswork slide, do some easy meals, and BREAK THAT HABIT! It wouldn't help to bring out a few new toys that allow for open ended play and some new books and art supplies.
post #27 of 32
You really can't control whether your son freaks out and tantrums when he doesn't get to watch TV. What you can control is your own consistency about setting limits.

I agree on going cold turkey. He may have a huge hissy fit about it. But surprisingly soon, he will find other ways to entertain himself. It seems to me that you are allowing a 3.5yo to have way too much say in how things go in your household, to the point that it's an atmosphere you really don't like. It's up to you not to attempt to set limits, but to actually set and keep them. Like I said, I think going CT would be the easiest way of doing this. Later, after your son has learned to play independently - which he will - you can introduce - if you want - a set period, like during dinner, when he can watch for an hour.

It is entirely reasonable to expect a 3.5yo to play independently. I would not replace every moment of TV time with one-on-one time, although you could certainly replace some of those 5-6 hours a day with reading to him and going to the park.

When he melts down, walk away. When he whines for TV, stick to your guns. "The TV is gone. There are other things to do." Really, that's all the strategy you need.

Believe me, it is going to be far easier to wean a TV-addicted 3yo than it will be when he's 8 or 9.
post #28 of 32
I ask my DS to turn off the TV at the end of whatever show he's currently watching. If he protests, I ask, "Do you want to turn off the TV or do you want Mom to turn off the TV?"

This question came after one experience such as you described with the yelling and slamming doors. I quietly unplugged the TV and it stayed unplugged for one week. Since then, all I have to do is ask that question and remind him that "If I turn off the TV, it stays off for the rest of the week. Are you sure you want me to turn it off?"
post #29 of 32
We had too much tv here for a while. DD just turned 4 and would watch all day long if I let her. She'd also play and do other stuff while it was on, but turning it off would result in a meltdown. I decided to just allow one show per day and DD can watch it whenever she wants. This has worked well for us. She protested the first couple days but since I stuck to it, she eventually accepted it. At the same time, I also instituted family movie night, so there was something interesting for her to look forward to.

I found that more than 1 show or a certain amount of time, or even tickets, was just too wishy-washy to her. One show is easy for her to get. When it's over, it's over. I DVR the shows she like (all PBS so no commercials) so I have control, when it ends, I turn it off and she moves on.

I found that the 6 mos between 3.5 and 4 she got a lot better at amusing herself for longer periods of time. And once the tv was under control, she got a lot better about playing on her own.
post #30 of 32
I love a lot of these ideas. I was thrilled to find this thread as I have almost the exact same problem with my son, 2y8m. The only difference for my family is that my husband loves tv almost as much as my son :P. I like the idea for tv after kids go to bed, but by then, I am soooo tired (he still wakes up to 3 times a night, so my sleep suffers, and I am one tired mama). But I think I may try to enlist some of these ideas for my son, and attempt to smooth things over with hubby
post #31 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by StephandOwen View Post
My ds is older than yours (almost 7) but this might work for your kiddo too. We decided that one hour of screen time (tv and computer) is appropriate for him on school days. I made 4 "tickets" (bookmarks in microsoft publisher that I played around with altering slightly). Each ticket can be turned in to me or dp for 15 minutes of screen time. We set a timer so he knows exactly how much time is left. Once his 4 tickets are gone, it's done. No arguments. We are a lot more lenient on weekends and don't use the ticket system, but we do force him outside for most of the day (so today he watched about an hour of tv and played on the computer for about an hour but we played outside in the morning, he went to his soccer and played in the afternoon and then in late afternoon we went for a family walk/run to the grocery store). The ticket system is working well for us
Late to this thread, but I wanted to second this ticket idea. We do exactly the same thing in our house, but for "junk food". 3 tickets per week. I get to control portion size, but DD controls when and for what the tickets are redeemed (subject to what is in the house, which is usually limited in the first place). It gives her some control and has completely taken the fight out of the junk food thing.

We've considered doing the same thing for screen time. So far we haven't felt that we needed to, but it will probably be our go-to solution if it becomes an issue. I'm sure it doesn't work for every child (nothing does!) but it's worked really, really well for us.
post #32 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by megababymomma View Post
about how to respond to the meltdowns (whether you choose to detox or limit). I remind myself often that "my child doesn't need to be happy all the time" (a Naomi Aldort quote). I don't need to feel guilty or bad or even sad for doing things that dissapoint, upset, frustrate him if I am doing them for his health and wellbeing.

Beyond that: I validate, validate, validate. Usually starting with a question. "are you mad because momma turned off the tv?" followed with a couple "i understand you are mad" then I start trying to work us on to the next thing "i understand you're still mad, would you like to (help me make dinner, talk about it, have a cuddle, etc)" and if he doesn't respond then I usually ask him if he need more time just to be mad and play it by ear from there. He's usually over it MUCH sooner than I am. =P and that's something I have to work on noticing too!
Thank you SO much for that post. Wow. I needed that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by zinemama View Post
You really can't control whether your son freaks out and tantrums when he doesn't get to watch TV. What you can control is your own consistency about setting limits.

I agree on going cold turkey. He may have a huge hissy fit about it. But surprisingly soon, he will find other ways to entertain himself. It seems to me that you are allowing a 3.5yo to have way too much say in how things go in your household, to the point that it's an atmosphere you really don't like. It's up to you not to attempt to set limits, but to actually set and keep them. Like I said, I think going CT would be the easiest way of doing this. Later, after your son has learned to play independently - which he will - you can introduce - if you want - a set period, like during dinner, when he can watch for an hour.

It is entirely reasonable to expect a 3.5yo to play independently. I would not replace every moment of TV time with one-on-one time, although you could certainly replace some of those 5-6 hours a day with reading to him and going to the park.

When he melts down, walk away. When he whines for TV, stick to your guns. "The TV is gone. There are other things to do." Really, that's all the strategy you need.

Believe me, it is going to be far easier to wean a TV-addicted 3yo than it will be when he's 8 or 9.
I'm not sure how much this post takes into account two things. Number one, the type of child you son is, OP. Two, the stage he is at. OP, your son is at an age where it feels like a really big deal when things don't go his way. He needs sympathy and love when something bothers him, not just "TV is gone, go do something else." That statement doesn't take into account his developmental stage, nor his personality.

As for expecting a 3.5 year old to play independently, that too depends on personality and age. My DD, who is only 16.5 months, plays by herself for up to a half hour. HOWEVER, just a couple short months ago, she literally had to be with me all the time, because she was at a stage where she needed Mommy more due to various reasons, such as teething, growth spurts, etc.

My DS is 8.5, and cutting his TV usage down has been easy. Again, I think ZineMama's statements are based in her own (valid) reality, and you should make decisions based on your child, and your child only. Sympathy, compassion, and love will go a long way towards helping him when he has meltdowns. You have to teach your kids how to handle anger and disappointment, not just sweep it under the rug, or ignore it by saying "there are other things to do." You may not be able to control whether your son 'freaks out' when you turn the TV off, however, you CAN control how you handle his meltdown and help him handle his emotions.

Good luck, Mama, and I hope things smooth out for you!

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