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Question for no (or rare) tv/video moms...

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
My babe is 4 months, but I'm thinking ahead. smile.gif

I have noticed a lot of threads in Toddlers about 2-3 year-olds and phases involving constant meltdowns (duh), many mentioning battles over TV. A few have said their issues went away or significantly diminished once they got rid of TV/videos. Now, we are avoiding all screens up to 2 years old, and once we move (when babe will be about 12 months) and no longer share cable, we will be getting rid of that (but still have Netflix, DVDs, etc.) I am one who doesn't think there's anything inherently wrong with the medium of television (including non-commercial videos) for kids-- at least kids over 2 or so. I had been loosely considering one short video or non-commercial program per day after 2-- active (meaning we watch it with her and talk about it, not use it to buy time for chores or whatever).

But now I'm thinking it might be just as well to avoid TV/video for a while if it truly is something that is frequently a battleground... But this only makes real sense if TV is actually the significant CAUSE of (or contributes in a major way to) tantrums-- that is, if you don't have a TV or watch videos (or only rarely), does that just mean the tantrums are about books, or the park? I mean, obviously basically every 2 y.o. has tantrums regardless, but will there be fewer tantrums without TV/videos, or will there be the same total number, but about different things instead? If there are likely to be significantly fewer tantrums without TV/videos, that does suggest something about the medium or usual content or typical usage or SOMETHING inherent in TV, no? Hmmmm... And if so, I'd rather plan to avoid TV/videos for longer.

Just trying to feel all this out-- thanks!
Edited by buko - 7/10/13 at 2:26pm
post #2 of 17

We were TV free until DD1 was 3.5 years old. OMG, that kid had tantrums prior to ever watching TV, many of them, all day long. I swear that she didn't stop screaming until she was 2 and then it just went to tantrums. My last kid is a carbon copy of her (2 other kids in the middle) and he screams just as much as she did, we haven't been TV free in years. He never fusses or screams about the TV, nor does he actually care to watch it though but the other kids do and it is just off the kitchen. 

post #3 of 17
I got rid of our tv when my girls were 3 & 5 (they're 15 & 17 now) and DS (2yo) has never lived with one. It wasn't because of tantrums that I tossed it out- I never liked tv, except for the odd show here or there, and I felt guilty about how much tv my LOs watched. They would just sit there like brain dead, slack jawed zombies for hours if I'd let them.

If you have the discipline and restraint to keep their screen time at a limit that feels good to you, and you like having a tv in the house, I'm sure you can make it work. Kids will have tantrums over anything and everything. The only reason I could see tv being any different or worse is that it's harder to get their attention to prepare them for the transition when you're ready to turn it off.
post #4 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Kids will have tantrums over anything and everything.

See, this is my inclination, BUT...  I feel like I have seen a lot of threads that feature kids begging ALL DAY for TV (even if they are only allowed X minutes per day) or always fighting/tantrumming about the TV.  IDK, but it seems like a hyperfocus that I'm not sure would be there otherwise.  Like, do people without TVs have toddlers that consistently tantrum allllll day about books, or the park, or whatever (one thing)?

post #5 of 17
I think one culprit here is cable: it's constant, never ends and as the credits roll on show A, there's a teaser to get you interested in show B. There's no real break in the images and sounds that signal to a small child that the story is over. We use DVDs a little, about every other day or so and DD can watch one program. We agree to watch one Cat in the Hat or Curious George and then it's all done, there is nothing vying for her attention after it's done. It's not any more troublesome in the tantrum department than a book. I think moderation is key. My DD is one of those zone out zombie kids but I feel ok about her watching half hour to an hour if we'll be outside walking, running and playing for at least twice as long that day. I think so much depends on your child's personality though. If you like, you could try a little and simply stop if it isnt a good fit once you feel she's old enough. Tv does overstimulate my girl though so there's zero screentime in the afternoon at our place.
post #6 of 17
We do not have problems if we remain consistent with our TV boundaries. My DD actually never asks to watch, but she will ask to watch more if it's already on. I try to stick to a clear, regular limit, and she has pretty much always complied. And if she's really begging for more, I'll let it come in and then interrupt to offer a super fun activity. She always chooses the activity - tantrum averted.

Remember that people tend to post here about their problems - it's a skewed sample, kwim?
post #7 of 17

I have one of those kids who does better with absolutely zero screen time.  We never watched a ton of TV, but sometimes had it on in the background in the evenings, and when he was 18mo or so I'd occasionally put something on for him while I did a sink of dishes or whatever.  He is a very spirited/high needs kid, and at the time I felt like I really needed the break (and I did, but videos weren't the answer).  

 

He is a different kid with no TV.  Here is how I've heard it explained, and it definitely applies to DS:  screen time up-regulates their sensory input.  They are entranced by it, can hardly look away (you could wave a hand in front of DS's face and he wouldn't respond), and then when it's time to turn it off, real life is boring.  TV is addictive and they want more and more of it.  Even more than that, they get used to being passively entertained by a screen, and they lose the ability to entertain themselves.  It seems like that change would happen over time, but for us it was instantaneous - after a single 20 minute show, for the rest of the day he would be whiney, clingy, want to nurse 10,000 times, be totally unable to initiate play.  On days with no TV, no problems.  Just normal 2 year old tantrum stuff :)

 

Then there was the fact that TV became a battleground.  I tried setting firm, predictable limits - one show a day after breakfast while I did dishes and got dressed.  But as soon as you turn it off, even with the limit and the warning, he would FLIP.  Then all day it was, "Watch?  Watch?  Watch?"  Remind him of the ritual and you'd get another tantrum.  Some kids probably respond pretty well to the limit, but mine definitely did not.  Delaying introduction to screens would probably help this a lot.  

 

It became such a problem for us that we just removed the TV from the home entirely.  DH and I still have smart phones, which he can navigate expertly, but they don't have any games or video apps on them.  He is allowed to scroll through my pictures and watch videos of himself, which never entertains him for long and doesn't have the same effect on him as other videos.

 

Also, I should mention that DS is more sensitive than most kids.  While I don't think that videos are beneficial for any little one, some are better able to handle them than others.  2 year olds will have tantrums, for sure, but removing the TV removed a good chunk of our daily tantrums in addition to making him a happier kid overall, better able to engage in real play.

post #8 of 17
My initial thought was the same as newmanalizzy's - that the people who post are asking for help, and you don't hear from people when everything is going fine. wink1.gif

I am pretty middle of the road with tv. Honestly I can take it or leave it but my husband has got to have his news and sports. I have three kids and they get a set amount each day which is more generous in the summer. They are pretty good about respecting these boundaries as they are consistent. My littlest one is almost 2 and is just beginning to show interest in tv, though he will only actually watch one show (Thomas). But he's just as happy to go in the other room with me to play with his engines. My kids overall haven't been big on tantrums and I believe that in our case (with no health, other issues at play) talking well early has helped immensely as well as a good diet, predictable daily rhythm and previously mentioned consistent limits. Don't get me wrong, there are still tantrums when the baby doesn't want to get in his carseat or wants to go somewhere he can't but it's five minutes.
post #9 of 17
My initial thought was the same as newmanalizzy's - that the people who post are asking for help, and you don't hear from people when everything is going fine. wink1.gif

I am pretty middle of the road with tv. Honestly I can take it or leave it but my husband has got to have his news and sports. I have three kids and they get a set amount each day which is more generous in the summer. They are pretty good about respecting these boundaries as they are consistent. My littlest one is almost 2 and is just beginning to show interest in tv, though he will only actually watch one show (Thomas). But he's just as happy to go in the other room with me to play with his engines. My kids overall haven't been big on tantrums and I believe that in our case (with no health, other issues at play) talking well early has helped immensely as well as a good diet, predictable daily rhythm and previously mentioned consistent limits. Don't get me wrong, there are still tantrums when the baby doesn't want to get in his carseat or wants to go somewhere he can't but it's five minutes max and not about tv. smile.gif
post #10 of 17

My boy just turned 3. For us it's just about being firm and clear about the limits, and when it's almost over telling him "this is the last one and I don't want any fuss" (we have lots of short clip videos that are under 10mins so I let him watch several). It usually works, although yes there have been the meltdowns. But all that means is: he's upset because he's not getting what he wants, he expresses his feelings, and after a minute or two we all move on. It's annoying, but it's part of childhood, and life in general, to learn to accept limits and that we don't always get what we want. So I don't see it as a problem.

 

...that said, I do have a friend whose daughter (3 y.o.) got obsessed with watching videos and it got totally out of control. However, their problem was, they had no clear limits, so the girl was slipping into those cracks and trying to get a  lot of tv watching out of it. So, again, it's all about having very clear limits and sticking to them. If you still find daily (or every time you watch tv) meltdowns, then clearly it's too much for your child to handle and you need to lay off for awhile and wait til they're a little older and can handle that.

 

Best of luck!
 

post #11 of 17

What benefit will daily televsion watching give your child or your family, if used in the manner described? Contrast that with what an additional benefit your child and family receive by doing something else, together.

 

My kids are 6 and 3 year are still tv free for the most part. They both watch maybe 20 minutes a month. We've lost nothing and gained a lot. My kids are never bored, can always find something to do, never whine about media, Media acts like a crutch to most families I know and the "we'll watch it together" usually lasts about two times.

post #12 of 17
I do very limited watching of educational videos and that's it. Maybe once a week, tops. That works well for us.
post #13 of 17

If I had it my way, there would be no TV in my house at all, but it really is part of DH's *culture*, if that makes sense. He wants to share movies he loved as a kid with our kids, and I get that. Our compromise is that we just have Netflix/DVDs, no cable or broadcast TV. There is a set time each day when DS can watch it (after rest time, for 20 minutes). Having that set time has really made it a non-issue, tantrum-wise. He sometimes asks earlier in the day, and we act like he's joking. "But it's not watching time! You're so silly. Now it's bike time (or breakfast time or reading time or whatever). Watching time is after rest time." We never, never, never let him watch anything at any other times.

 

I think he has gained some things from watching. We adore Sesame Street, and thanks to it, he is fine with brushing his teeth, using good manners, sharing, and eating a variety of foods--and he credits SS with this, saying, "I'm eating the colors of the rainbow, like the boy on Sesame Street" or "Time to brush my teeth like Elmo!" I'll take it, you know?

 

If he wants to watch something that is more than 20 mins, I set a timer and we watch the rest of it the next day.

post #14 of 17

We do minimal-medium TV watching. But never on an actual TV. We don't have one, just laptops with Netflix.

 

I think it's important to avoid cable and the idea that the TV could just be "on" for no reason, or in the background. If you're going to watch something, watch something.

 

I feel like shows like Dora have helped my son understand some things. I sing the "where are we going?" song when we're in the car and it helps him be patient and wait to get to our destination.

post #15 of 17

It really depends on what is going on for us... sometimes we watch a movie, sometimes a couple shows. We just do netflix now, so it is easy to turn it off... I have been working on a project for work (I work at home) that is heavily video focused, and so I have been watching a lot more parts of clips lately... that is kind of hard to explain to my 3 year old... :-/
 

post #16 of 17
I agree with JudyAU. If you make it to 2 years t.v. free, what do you feel introducing it would add?

Personally, we've been back and forth a bit on the television issue. My son will be 2 in September. A few months ago, he began asking to "watch". We don't have cable, just a few dvd's. I'd put on Planet Earth or Finding Nemo and within a couple of days, he became obsessed. He'd be asking to "watch" before we were even out of bed in the morning. It really amazed me that he could be riveted to the screen for almost an entire movie, and then ask to watch it again 30 minutes later. I noticed that he became uninterested in his books, and was no longer playing with his blocks (a favourite pass time). So one day while he was eating his lunch, I put the television away. He asked for it quite a bit over several days, and then that gradually tapered off. He still asks occasionally, even now. I feel like he could be very prone to becoming a bit of a screen addict, that it is something about his personality that makes him that way. We've decided that if t.v. is to become a tool in our household (educational videos, documentaries, etc) it will be much later in life. So I definitely think it also depends a little bit on your child's personality!
post #17 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by buko View Post

See, this is my inclination, BUT...  I feel like I have seen a lot of threads that feature kids begging ALL DAY for TV (even if they are only allowed X minutes per day) or always fighting/tantrumming about the TV.  IDK, but it seems like a hyperfocus that I'm not sure would be there otherwise.  Like, do people without TVs have toddlers that consistently tantrum allllll day about books, or the park, or whatever (one thing)?

 

IMO, yes.  I think (most) kids hyper-focus on something and for some, it just happens to be TV.

 

We allow minimal screen time and screen time isn't a trigger for my child(ren); we could probably do away with it completely and it wouldn't be a struggle.  So, maybe it's easy for me to say.

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