Please don't flame me.....it started out innocent enough. My dd was sort of watching whatever big brother was. TV shows such as Super Why or The Magic School Bus.....In my opinion, appropriate shows. They started watching some movies and now my 2.5 yr old is obsessed with watching TV. I do so much with them.......our house is such a learning rich environment but she prefers TV. She throws such a fit if I refuse to turn on TV. She is totally nuts about Tangled and would seriously watch it all day!!! What do I do? How did I get myself in such a mess. I feel like such a bad mom and I need to find a way to nip this problem. Please help!! Please tell me how I can redirect her more successfully.
2.5 yr old obsessed with TV/movies
I could have written your thread-starter. Really, I'm ready to throw the black-box out the door. It was the same for us- started innocently, letting him watch 20 minutes of Thomas while I take a shower, and now every waking moment is "pick a movie!!" or "watch tv!!". And yes, we have an intentionally set up home for learning as well, but the kicker came yesterday when daddy was in the garage and the DS wanted to stay inside and watch tv instead of hanging out with dad. This made us both so sad, and we made him go out anyway, even through the fit of crying for t.v. DS is also nearing the 2.5 age mark.
I think it is something to do with repetition and predictability for him. Developmentally, it is all about repeat right now. Same books every night. Same routine every morning. Same breakfast, same shoes, same shirt. So the fact that his "friends" on Thomas are the same each time is appealing. Every time he says "pick a movie" or "watch tv" I say, "I love you Ethan." At first he thought this was a fun game, but now he is realizing it means "no." Other times I try to change up the toys that are readily available, such as the stack of books that always finds its way to the ottoman in the living room or the train set- put out new stuff I stash in the closet to redirect his energy. Or if I have the time at the moment, I engage him in helping me cook, take out trash, do chicken chores or feed dogs. He also loves to Swiffer and take clothes from the dryer.
And he has started with the "Why Mommy??" bit. So I say to him, serious face: "I don't want you to watch so much tv because it overstimulates certain parts of your brain that inhibit your natural development, specifically related to speech and moral-reasoning."
With a blank stare, this got him off my back this morning.
But just in case he asks for references to my claims tomorrow, I'm prepared with research and resources from the U of Maine: http://umaine.edu/publications/4100e/
When I first started to let my son watch things on the ipad or the computer (when I was super sick during the beginning of my pregnancy), I had a lot of trouble with him asking all the time and wanting to watch things all the time. Then I switched it to letting him watch a short 20ish minute thing in the morning and a short 20ish minute thing at night, which, in my opinion, is fine for a 3 year old, given that he has lots of other activities and reading and what not throughout the day, and it's very clear that that's the viewing that is allowed and is very predictable. Now it's much more smooth and, for the most part, he doesn't ask me about watching stuff at other times. I chose those times because, in the evening, it used to be very hard to get him to come to bed without a fit, so if we have the added bonus of watching something, that makes the process easier, and also makes it easier to brush his teeth. In the morning, it helps him get up a bit quicker and not just lie around and nurse forever. So, my suggestion might be to choose an amount of viewing that you are comfortable with and then have that very consistently as part of a routine and, if possible, not at any other times.
When we first started letting her watch movies, DD would have tantrums and want to see more and more. So then I designated one day of the week as "movie day." Her dad is more lax on TV than I am and they watch football together and sometimes nature shows. But she knows that I only show TV on movie day, and so she doesn't have tantrums about it with me anymore. If she asks to watch a movie, I say, "Yes, on movie day!" So now she just says, "I want to watch [blah blah] on movie day."
She totally knows what day it is, too.
She is obsessed with Kiki's Delivery Service, by the way, and talks about it constantly, quotes it, and pretends to be Kiki. I am pretty sure she thinks Kiki is real. It's a fairly benign movie - it wouldn't be my first pick for a movie for her to watch - but it does unnerve me how much a part of her daily life Kiki is even though she only sees it once a week. But she also loves her books and her pretend play, loves to hear the same spoken stories again and again, so I don't think it's really that big of a deal, no matter how weird it makes me feel. On some level, I think children can transform movies into something archetypal so they come to serve the same purpose as folk stories.
I would be happy to be TV free, but her dad would not go for that, so this is my way of keeping some boundaries around media usage, and it satisfies me. Also, it's my way of getting a bit of a break now and then, which I ultimately think is more healthy for us.
Another friend of mine uses a chart to track media usage and that seems to work great with her 3 yr old. I might switch to that as DD gets older. We try to do many things on a rhythm, however, so for now this works very well.
We don't have a TV (no, this isn't going to be a high and mighty post!), but I started letting DD watch some stuff on the computer when she was about 2.5. Initially it was superwhy and Australian Play School (educational stuff), but then it degenerated to Angelina Ballerina, which she is currently obsessed with. She wants to watch it every day. She has seen some other stuff that I am definitely not into (Disney etc) at daycare and at other people's houses.
All I can say is that we are trying hard to reduce it. It's a very useful thing when it's crazy time at 5pm and you're trying to get dinner ready, but then we dont' watn our 20 mth old watching at all and it's hard. The other thing is that she can use the mouse so I have to check on her because sometimes she will switch to different videos on youtube.