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turning off the TV

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
For the first year of ds's life, I didn't turn on the TV at all while he was awake. Then, this past summer while we were at my mom's we "discovered" television, and I started letting him watch a few minutes here or there when I needed to finish cooking dinner without a toddler hanging on my leg, for example. It became easier and easier to turn it on instead of finding more creative ways to occupy him, and the more TV he watched, the whinier he got. By December, I realized that he was watching 3 hours or more on some days (yikes!). So, I've decided to turn it off again.

The problem is, he's already attached to some of these shows, and asks to watch them. He's 20 mos old, and already points to the TV and says "Elmo" or "Boos Coos" (Blue's Clues). He also like Zoboomafoo, Clifford, and Stanley. I wouldn't mind him watching some of these shows occasionally, but have gotten irritated with all the shows I mentioned (with the exception of Stanley) because of their treatment of the topic of babies (bottles, etc.). I considered taping a few episodes of Zoboo and Stanley for him to watch (very) occasionally, but I really don't want him to watch Elmo and Blue anymore--what do I do when he asks for them? Will he forget eventually?
post #2 of 15
Can you offer him something that we would find more interesting to distract him? Art supplies like playdough or finger paint helped my kids forget about TV at that age.

We watch some TV, but I have found that letting my kids watch it so that I can have a few minutes of peace doesn't work in the long run because the more TV they watch, the less able they are to amuse themselves.
post #3 of 15
I agree with Linda. Try giving him something more interesting to do. He will forget, especially if the TV is replaced by something more fun. This happened with my 4 year old. I was doing great really limiting her TV time. Toward the end of my pregnancy with Grace (10 months) I got anemic and tired and let Molly watch more TV than I felt was acceptable. We're back on track now, but it took awhile.

post #4 of 15
I agree Linda...we let DD watch TV on occasion and on those days when she watches a lot, she is a bear to manage because she just wants to veg in front of the TV and is FURIOUS when we turn it off so she can do other things. She is less able to entertain herself.

Kezia...I think if you stop your child from watching the shows you don't want him to watch (Blue & Elmo/SesStr) at that young age he will eventually forget...don't slip up though while you are in the "probationary period" and it is still fresh in his memory because he will demand to see them all and you'll have to start all over again. It is as powerful as any addiction and like quitting cigarettes, alcohol, or caffeine, it takes a while to get it out of someone's system. Just remember, it is OK to tell your child no and turn his attention to something else you know he loves. As much as our daughter fights us on some days, we are firm and start her in on a project that we know she likes, even if it takes a while and a lot of belly-aching!

One suggestion, while you are cooking dinner, why don't you let your child play with pots/pans/wooden spoons on the floor of the kitchen so he can "cook" too? 20 months is a bit too young to be helping in the kitchen at dinner time but at least he can emulate mommy and then when you feel he is old enough, he can help you. Our daughter went to Montessori so she was comfortable in the kitchen pouring and stirring things by 2 1/2 or 3. Only you can be the judge for your child obviously. Cooking may take a bit longer at that point but it is a fun bonding experience

Good luck!

post #5 of 15
You have gotten some very good advice. One thing I would like to mention is where is your TV? Do you have one of those TV cabinets with doors that close?
We recently made the decision to limit television on our house. Actually it's been about 4 or 5 months now. I found that by closing the doors I was better able to "forget" about the TV. I no longer put it on for background noise and I no longer let the kids veg out in front of it after school.
You know what, they have adjusted and they are alot older than yours. My daughter is 7 and my brother is 8. They no longer turn the TV on without asking me and they have to let me know what they are going to watch and I never let them watch more than a 1/2 hour.

post #6 of 15
I think he will forget fairly quickly, especially if he can't see the TV all day to remind him. Can you put it away or in a different room for a while, or rearrange the furniture so it's not the focal point of the room? That way he won't have a constant reminder of watching.
We got rid of our TV a couple of years ago. Before that the children watched a short movie now and then, when I really needed a break; we didn't have cable. Then we moved and what with unpacking and arranging stuff, the children were watching way too many movies. They became really dependant on watching, but absolutely unbearable afterwards - mentally/emotionally tired from watching but physically raring to go - not a good mix. Anyway, we just decided to give it away, it was causing more stress than it relieved. After a few weeks the children forgot about it, and now have very little interest in TV at all.
Blessings, Becca
post #7 of 15
Jennifer's idea about the cabinet works. If you don't have one (or can't buy one now), another good trick is to cover the tv with a piece of fabric. A friend of mine did this and it seems to have helped her with tv struggles.

post #8 of 15
Originally posted by robynberkley

One suggestion, while you are cooking dinner, why don't you let your child play with pots/pans/wooden spoons on the floor of the kitchen so he can "cook" too?

yes, very good idea (and much better than dragging out the finger paint while you trying to cook dinner!) My kids also like stiring a bowl of water and little food color, or "washing" their plastic dishes in the sink.

Anther fun and not too messy thing is a bowl of dried beans. Dried beans are really fun to play with (we don't eat the ones they play with). They uses measuring cups, spoons, etc. (I keep the beans in a big ziploc bag between uses). This is a fast cleanup activity.
post #9 of 15
Several months ago we moved the TV out of the main room and into a smaller room. Well, that worked for awhile...then we just spent all our time in the TV room. Next we moved it into the corned and covered it with a sheet. That worked really well. DD is 18 months and gets addicted occasionally. The past week or 2 I have been so lazy and exhausted and camped her out in front of it way too much. I was feeling really bad and then yesterday morning our VCR quit. (We dont have cable) So that solved that problem! I thought I would have a hard day with her, but she hasnt asked once. They get over things pretty quickly I think. Our next plan is to buy a small TV with a vcr attatched and keep it in the closet and drag it out for movie nights.
I would suggest covering it with something. That will really help him not to be thinking ofit all day.
post #10 of 15
Hi Kezia,
Have you considered getting rid of cable? We get videos out of the library for my son to watch, like Blue's Clues and other educational ones, which works out well for us. Then we can control what he sees.
Remember, your child will emulate you!
post #11 of 15
I absolutly agree. It is not the TV that is the problem, it is what appears on it.

We have TV, but only use Videos. I am the broadcaster!

There are SO many advantages to this arrangement.

Hope this helps

post #12 of 15
Or your TV Husband!!!! (which sad to say is our case!!!)

i never in my life knew tv/movies were such a slippery slope! i think its worse than bottle/breast mixing

started out innocently enough 15 mins of pbs so i could shower for work and now here we are ingrained into the daily routine

**i** want to change it! however dh doesnt see it the way i do

since he's as bad as my daughter i'm not suprrised

i feel like the don quixote of our home

Originally posted by Forest Sage
Hi Kezia,
Remember, your child will emulate you!
post #13 of 15
We didn't have TV for a while because I went through a period of underemployment when DS #1 was a toddler, so sold TV along with computer (gasp!), phone (gasp gasp!) answering machine (suddenly not needed LOL), all camera equipment (YES, all!) etc. for more practical things like...food. OK, so when we were in much better circumstances we had a TV but weren't home too much to watch it and definitely did not have cable and lived way far away from the TV stations and behind some mountains so we sporadically watched PBS and what we couldn't see we made up. We strangely enough had the VCR because nobody had wanted to buy it so we did watch movies when we had time but it wasn't much beause I was in graduate school. I remember our favorite video, the one I could study to as we lived in a small place, was Disney's Fantasia. Well, somehow we went through a period of having Nickelodean but that was during the period DS went to public school and had a teenage sitter, but I figured that the sitter balanced things out as they took tremendous nature walks, worked in an alternative health store together (her mom's business), beat on drums, and practiced Reiki, among other things. For a while after he was homeschooling and we had moved away from the wonderful neighbor girl (well, OK we own the house still but it's rented out - circumstances really did improve)...we would watch all sorts of programs such as Oprah which I think were interesting from a sociological perspective and spiritually until dare I say this we felt that we outpaced the hostess in terms of personal growth...had finished our diets and our financial management program and changed our life...of course she was showing so many repeats that it really was difficult to tell what was going on with her personally! Well, we watched the news and we watched Teletubbies with the baby and we did NOT watch survivor or Friends or shows like that and only my son understood that quiz show so we didn't watch that either because it was too slow. I must add that during our period of TV I studied for the Foreign Service Exam by watching Jeopardy ever single night and it really helped me immensely! We watched some nice Ken Burns videos, some very complicated origami videos, French learning videos and all manner of things educational...we had the Magic Flute and it was beautiful...and some art films and such and for a couple years justified the TV as a desirable homeschool device. Then we came up against space, and time management and we realized that beyond cable and electricity, the TV was costing us valuable square footage, and much needed time. We discussed its departure, and while my son was away for 8 weeks at an outdoor camp and far away from TV anyway, I eBayed the videos and sold the TV and VCR to a couple who had theirs torched by lightning (hmmm, there's Something to Ponder). I invested the $$ in his interest bearing account and we have never looked back. Slowly, slowly, we began to be less and less influenced by TV - we no longer felt obliged to schedule our lives around any shows we wished to see, I no longer had to dust videos and replace them in their sleeves, or dust the TV/VCR or wonder if it would Catch Fire in the middle of the night if I forgot to turn it off at the wall switch. We ceased going to the video store to Rent Movies...or watched commericals or heard jingles in our subconscious. Talk in the hockey locker room became a mumble jumble of code words that we assume must come from the latest offerings on the tube. My son's self-image improved. I feel more normal than I have felt in a long time. I work more and I don't get cravings 'out of nowhere' and whatever feelings I have come from the events and music of MY life rather than someone I have seen on TV fictional or real. We read a lot more than we did before, and we have always read a lot. We go to sleep when we are tired and don't stay up to finish watching a show we started. My son might actually go to the Olympics with his friends this year and I don't think it's strange because, well, how else would he see them? I can now truly understand the excitement of the World Fair and its exhibits. We went to a Bean Dinner and it seemed a good way to catch up on local information! When my toddler does something new, I know it's because he learned it through interaction with his environment or family members, and not from TV...it's SO VERY REWARDING to know that. Yes, TV can teach reading and word skills and give information, but I feel that kind of learning produces some sort of dissociation. The child will always association a certain letter or number or concept with a jingle or song or puppet or a person that they had no real relationship with. Maybe later on it will make them feel sort of empty. I didn't have TV when I was little and I can remember very distinctly my coveted plastic zip-close envelope with a clear front and a blue back, and it was filled with cards on which a single letter or letter-combination was printed along with the phonetic symbols...my bag had a split in it and it was mended with clear tape which was a little bit yellowed. They smelled - plasticky! I wold sit in my closet and sort through the cards, going over the sounds, remembering the words and voice of my teacher and classmates...how my teacher taught the sound "wh" by blowing on a mature dandelion and my best friend sneezed violently. I honestly don't believe a TV can replace that sort of personal, associative learning. TV eats up valuable time in its mildest form and in its extreme form can be all-consuming and hazardously pervasive to a person's internal thoughts and thinking patterns. To say I am now anti-TV would be an extreme understatement. We now watch an occasional DVD movie on my ccomputer but when we do it's one that we have researched beforehand and made the time for, often planned for several weeks to watch...and we are always truly enthralled by the movie and thoroughly disoriented when it's over! My BF and son went to see Lord of the Rings at the theater and I had to remind them both the get reoriented before leaving the movie house as they would run the risk of getting run over in the parking lot or worse! I do not let my toddler watch movies - I was in a place I can't remember where and there was a TV screen and he was confused by it, as well he should be!

I am glad there is Mothering.com - I do like the internet when it is put to a good use such as public forums. I use ad-busting software and good search engines and techniques in order to avoid its more distracting elements. Even then you have to be careful - it's too easy to be sucked in! I'm still trying to figure out how to disable the 'groovy' rotating pink and purple flowers behing the hippie-person icon without destroying some of the more useful scripts on this site. For an autistic who becomes insane at flashing or repetitive items in my peripheral vision I am going to have to figure it out, post a sticky note over that part of my screen, or vacate entirely. Egads. Doesn't it get to anyone besides me - I mean it's cute at first glance but after a while you want to smack it senseless, pricy laptop or no.

post #14 of 15
I hear ya!
ds is 2 years old and 4 months, 26 months in some circles (lol) and each MORNING, after we nurse and snuggle, I swear his first word are' T.V.?'
It's driving me nuts! Some where along the way I forgot that our children do what we do, and for the past few months I've been working more(at home) and using tv as the 'baby sitter' for him in the morning, and then vegging out myself at the end of the day, not even thinking he'll get used to it. What a mistake! Even though it's 'Zobo' and 'Clifford', it's everyday, and I'm the one who got lazy. Soooo, I distact, let's go out for a walk, let's read a book..it's about being diligent, is'nt it?
And telling dad that HE'S got to help out ,too.
Let us know how the progress goes.
post #15 of 15
wow, i've been soo interested in this thread! DD is 5 months, so its not a problem yet, but I 've been thinking about what i've been reading here where the kids are getting hooked on their cartoon shows and begging for them...We have a TV and DH and I like it for national geographic type stuff, a morning yoga program, a veggie cooking show, a craft/gardening show, and I'd been toying with whether or not to someday when she's much older expose her to the "educational" kid/cartoon PBS stuff...what I'm thinking now is that anything inthat kid/cartoon category is way more likely to get her "hooked" where she wants them everyday (which /i would be uncomfortable with) whereas if she justs ends up seeing grown-up oriented quality programming like DH fav Discovery channel geography shows, she might watch with us, or get bored and decide to play/read instead, but its unlikely she'll demand to watch tv if the little she sees was not designed to suck in a kid audience. what do you all think? Dh and I would lie to br able to still occaisonally watch our favs, maybe our shows would be boring enough to keep her un-excited on tv?
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