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Fighting the TV battle and what to do?

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 
Let me preface this thread with the following: This thread is not being started as a debate about watching TV. Feel free to start your own thread to debate the issue if that is what you are interested in doing! Thanks

So dd is 16 months old, and I realize that she sholdn't be watching television. It was easy in the begining because I could turn it off, but now she knows how to turn it on, and turn the channels. Unless I take her out of the house, that is all she wants to do in the morning (watch pbs).
We go out almost every day so that we can play away from the TV and away from the computer.

When we are at home, however, I am always struggling to keep her entertained/focused etc.
What can I do with a 16 month old? I know she likes new toys and she likes to develope new skills with those toys, but I also realize that I am not going to run out and buy something whenever she is bored. There must be things we can find to play with around the house. AND I know she needs some time to play on her own too, to focus, concentrate, and learn, but she does not seem interested in this most of the time.

So, I am falling farther and farther away from the "no tv" mom, and now dd lights up at the site of Elmo's World on PBS.
It's too easy to let her watch it while I take a shower, make supper etc.

I want to change this, but here's the catch:
We are not getting rid of the TV. Dh would flip out if I even suggested such a thing! We don't have cable (that is a battle I've been winning so far).

Again, let's not debate weather or not TV is ok for dd in this thread. That is not the issue. The issue is that I've decided that I want to take the TV out of her life so that she can grow and learn and develop through other mediums. I need some help, though!
How have you worked through this as parents?
Thanks all,

post #2 of 28
I've struggled with this myself. With my first ds we let him watch at least two hours a day. Once my second ds was born and I became a full time sahm I decided I did not want more than 2 hours a week.

First - you don't have to eliminate the TV all at once. For example if your dd watches three TV shows a day, start by eliminating one. Then once that seems to be no longer an issue eliminate another and so on.

When trying to make dinner -

How about giving her some pots and pans to play with next to you. Maybe sit her a high chair (so you don't have to worry about her touching the stove, etc) and give her a few bowls a spoon and a little dry oatmean or flour to stir around and play with.

Sing songs/put music on

Wait until dh is home to make dinner so he can watch dd

Do most of the dinner prep during her nap time (if she still naps) so have you much less to do while she's awake.

Bathtime -

Take her in the tub with you

Baby proof the bathroom really well and lock her in the bathroom with you with a few toys. This way you don't have to worry about where she is wandering around the house and what's she into.

My little ds is 19 mos and he has the worst habit of turning the TV on all the time. So now I unplug the TV all day. When you want to watch it at night you can plug it back in.

I hope this helps you.

post #3 of 28
Buy or build or create a space to lock the tv in! We have a whole wall that's a closet (my dh built it) and the tv is behind closed doors in its own cabinet up too high for dd to reach. The doors stay closed all day so she doesn't even SEE the tv. You could either buy a tv cabinet, or a wall unit with closing doors around the television, or whatever. If that's not possible, put it on a tv stand that's way too high for her to reach.

You created an addict. Un-create the addict.

The important thing for me was that dd not even see the tv. I know that when I see the tv, I want to watch it. TV is seriously addictive. When it's out of sight, it's out of mind. And that's especially true with kids.

Good luck! At least you're not like one of the moms in my mother's meetings, who said she puts her THREE MONTH OLD in a high chair watching ESPN as a "babysitter." Grrrrrrrrrr....:mad:
post #4 of 28
our tv is on a lot

my baby won't even look at tv (except the i dream of jeanie theme song)

i don't really "watch" i just have it on.

I guess I need to cut back.. This post is good because it made me stop and think that I need to cut that out NOW before it becomes habit on the baby.

I do let my son (who is 9) watch TV at night on the weekend. I go in and turn it off when I go to bed....around 11pm.

Most of the stations are "deleted" from his TV....he gets PBS, Discovery, Cartoon Network, Disney. I think that is it. I can't remember, but I got rid of a lot of them.

but he is older. not a young toddler.
post #5 of 28
I think dotcommama has great advice - I do most of those things, too. But I also definitely think getting the tv out of site is necessary for your dd. I also sometimes wear mine in the backpack while preparing meals.
post #6 of 28

no tv

I started a thread on this exact topic not long ago, did you happen to read it?? It was called "how do I get rid of our tv?" I think!! I totally know what you mean about DH, not wanting to let the tv go, we dont have cable either, but he seems to be able to watch anything. This week I let him watch one show per nigth, then shut it off, right now him and DS are in the bath!

Anyway, as for activities, something my DS really likes to do, and keeps him occupied sometimes for an hour or more, is I sit him at the coffee table with a bunch of containers, all different sizes and colours, and then usually give him Cheerios and he sits and dumps them back and forth, I also give him spatulas, spoons, and other implements to use. he absolutely loves this. Kind of messy, but I just let the dogs come in to clean up after!

Instead of letting your Dd watch tv, while you shower, maybe bring her in, I do this every day. We have a bar that suction cups onto the wall, with different containers on it, that you can fill with water, we usually end up in there for a half hour just playing, splashing etc.

These are just a few ideas!!

Love Renee

post #7 of 28

What about unplugging?

Since your dd can turn it on by herself, why not unplug it when you don't want her to watch. In my experience, if kids can watch TV, then they will, KWIM?

Last spring, I just snapped over the TV. I was reading "How to Live More With Less" by Doris Longacre and my 2 youngest children were watching some horrid Disney show. Suddenly, the TV seemed like a loud, obnoxious, uninvited guest. I unplugged it, and put it away in a closet. (No mean feat, it's a big TV.) It stayed in the closet for 3 months. My children hardly complained at all. In fact, they seemed a little relieved. (Their ages at the time were 7, 8, 5, & 2.) All summer long, their imaginations blossomed. They hardly ever complained of boredom.

Now, we have it hooked up for video viewing only but I may start storing the VCR in a closet b/c they're starting to like videos a little too much.

I suppose it's harder for you, LaLa, with one child who's so young. But to a 16 month old, there's so much fun stuff to explore. Your kitchen drawers are an adventure to her. Well, good luck.
post #8 of 28

keep it away from her!

Our TV is in a basement TV room, so when DD was your child's age, she could only get to it if I took her. Since I hate Elmo, and the only alternative was the teletubbies, it was pretty easy for me to think of other things for her to do. (she also has always been extra-mommy attached. she really wants to be in the room I'm in, so if I wasn't doing the laundry next to the TV room, she wouldn't watch.)
THEN my work picked up so much that I couldn't get it done in the hours she was asleep or in preschool. My office is next to the TV room. My TV addict was born! There were some days that she watched from 1:00 til bedtime...
I have always had a rule that no TV/videos before noon. That helps, because now that I've taken control (knock wood) of my work scedule,by then we can be on the way out the door for the afternoon. I do let her unwind after preschool somedays, but I'm also now planning activities when she comes home that will intrigue her and pull her away from the TV. And next year: afternoon kindergarten! She'll probably only have time for her beloved Zoom)
She made a new years resolution (with some strong suggestions from mom) to limit viewing to the 1 1/2 hrs a day recommended (by the AAP? Dr. Brazelton always cites this). So I can pull that one out of the bag if need be. (Then she reminds me that my resolution was to stop yelling, or as she puts it when I am halfway to a rage, "Mom, remember, you were going to change your life...")
Now if DH would only stop bringing Disney videos home...

Seriously, all of the above suggestions are good. And find an amount that you're comfortable with and stick to it.

Just an aside: she knows how to turn OFF the TV (she's 5), but has never really mastered turning it on, OR changing the channels. So I know that if she's watching Reading Rainbow, she's not likely to change the channel to a Friends rerun dealing with sex toys!!! I'm grateful for small things.
post #9 of 28
re: new toys

toys dont have to come from the store to be new to baby

put some of the toys away then at some point, be it eight to twelves weeks out

pull out the box of 'new' toys and put away the 'old ones'

esp. if you let baby see the box and get involved in unpacking - its like discovering things
post #10 of 28
Our TV is high up in a cabinet so the kids can't reach it. The bottom part of the cabinet is filled with all of the other multimedia paraphinalia: VCR, CD player, DVD play, receiver with radio and tape, etc. We put a large piece of 1/4 inch thick plastic across the bottom part of the cabinet. It attaches with magnets. This way the kids don't have access to any of the buttons, but when we want to use the stuff, we have access with the remotes that stay way up on top.

Your dd with probably have some tantrums if you put the tv up away from her reach, but that will pass.

One other option, though I think this only works with older kids, is to just let them get their fill. Probably not everyone will agree with this. A few months ago I was very busy in the afternoons, dd was begging to watch tv ALL THE TIME and finally I though, sure, how much can it hurt, I'll figure out how to cure her of this later. Well, after about a week she had just about all the pbs she could stand. Now she will watch 1 or 2 half hour shows a day and then say that she is done and wants to do something else.
post #11 of 28
Originally posted by sleepies
our tv is on a lot

my baby won't even look at tv (except the i dream of jeanie theme song)

i don't really "watch" i just have it on.
TV is insidious. Using it as background noise is just letting all the messages (be a consumer! Buy buy buy! You need this, you need that!!!) seep into your son's head. IMO.
post #12 of 28
LaLa - I can *so* relate to your struggle. You have some great suggestions here, but I'll offer a few more.

The first step, as mentioned by many, is to unplug & cover your t.v. Some other things to try:

-Make up some t.v. viewing guidlines such as 'one show in the morning, one show in the afternoon' or 'no t.v. before noon or after dinner' - whatever works for you. Although dd is too young to comprehend these rules, you will both develop a rhythm to your day where t.v. can fit comfortably. If you *never* turn on the t.v. right after lunch, dd may not think to ask for it at that time anymore.

-Rotate your toys. I also keep a small basket of toys out of reach in the kitchen, my bedroom, etc. When I am busy in those rooms, I bring down the basket...ds is enthralled (for a few minutes atleast) because they are not ones he sees every day.

-Put baby in the kitchen sink with some bubbly water, while you stand next to her and prepare food at the counter

-Playdough and finger paints - my kids started around 18 mos.

-Let her play w/ cereal boxes, yogurt cups, kitchen gadgets, a back pack/purse filled with empty bottles, old plastic sunglasses - any kind of object that mommy would use and is safe. My kids have always loved to play with 'real' stuff

You and dh just need to decide how much/what type of t.v. you will allow in your dd's life, and stay with it. I think you are wise for realizing that the habits set in toddlerhood are ones that may stay with you child for a long time...Good Luck!
post #13 of 28
Thread Starter 
You all have some great ideas
Thank you!

Some of them are not applicable to our living situation (ie; hiding the TV...it's HUGE!!! Likek 69 inch wide screen or something too big along those lines) BUT we can certainly do a number of the other suggestions

I started last night and continued today and it's working great so far (no tv).
She hasn't even turned it on! Instead I've found things that we can do together (coloring, puzzles etc). I put a little coffee table in the middle of the room for her to put her stuff on, then she can "work" at a table just like mom does! :LOL
She loved it! I got out some of my magazines and we looked at the pictures of babies etc.
This morning we went out and played in the snow and took a long bath and she is down for the earliest nap she's taken in months!

So, I know it can be done, and I erally appreciate the feedback, ideas and encouragement. It's so easy to slip from a half hour a day to all day viewing, and it is more work in our society to "turn the TV OFF" but I am feeling really good about it!

One major benefit to this situation is that I don't watch TV. Only dvds at night when she is asleep, so that will help too

Keep those ideas coming!

Oh, and you will all think I'm physco, but I don't let dd in the kitchen! We have two open stairways from there and a big doggie (whom isn't ready for toddler playtime! ) So, it's been a lot easier for us to keep her play area in the other section of the house, but the high chair ideas are good. Next time I make supper I will bring her in there and let her "help" me

Thanks again!
post #14 of 28
Hi LaLa!

Here's some ideas:

Get a big plastic water or soda bottle and teach her how to put clothespins into it. She'll love to shake them around and learn how to get them back out (and she will!). This was a treat for my dd at that age.

Make sock puppets!

Get some cardboard boxes and make a fort. Draw on them! she'll love to crawl around and play peek-a-boo.

Draw! My dd started to draw at 12 mos. Don't buy any coloring books, she won't care about them (at least mine didn't). Use scrap paper, or get those rolls of that paper we all used in kindergarten (like recycled paper) and tape it to the table. Get a pencil holder and crayons and pencils (non-toxic). Stay away from felt pens for obvious reasons!

Read! I know it seems like she's not paying attention, and that's frustrating. But she is! We don't read the story so much as we name all the objects in the pictures. Buy or borrow books with lots of everyday objects. Children this age pay more attention to real stuff than to animals all dressed up like humans. My dd has been looking at books since she was tiny. People thought I was pretty crazy, but dd's favorite thing is books.

Put something on the floor, don't worry about the mess (I know it's hard) and give her some pots with a little water (I barely cover the bottom of the pot with water), add some dishsoap and teach her to swirl it around with a spoon or whisk to make bubbles. Or give her some dry pasta to "make".

She should be old enough (maybe next month) to start putting diapers on her teddy bears and dolls. Teach her how to care for something(one) else.

Buy some bubbles to blow. My dd loved this, though it's a 5 minute activity. Make sure there's no perfume! Grandma bought her some that just stinked!

If she likes the texture of dough (mine does not!) you could give her some dough and a special rolling pin just for her.

Get an old, or cheap, photo album and put some of the crappy pics you don't like in it. She might like to flip through it and look at mommy and daddy and other people she knows.

Fill a box with old clothes and costumes. Play dress-up! When we were in Portland, we went to the Children's Museum there. Iris was 18 mos. She loved the big styrofoam guitar and play microphone.

Music! She may too young to learn songs but she'll like to dance. Teach her to turn around and around or shake her booty. She'll learn the songs eventually. My dd has learned many words by listening to songs.

Old magazines! Iris loves 'em. To draw in, to tear, to look at objects.

I could go on! You can see what my life is like, can't you? Well, I love it!

Finally, involve her in your tasks, even if it takes longer. If you have a front-loading washer (not common in the US, I know) you can let her remove the laundry and hand it to you, or maybe your dryer is more likely to be front-loading: let her put the laundry in there. Have her pass you the laundry from the basket, etc. When you make her something, let her get the ingredients out of the fridge or go get the pot or pan. Let her dust. Give my dd a sponge and she's happy!

Hope some of this helps! Good luck!
post #15 of 28
Thread Starter 


She should be old enough (maybe next month) to start putting diapers on her teddy bears and dolls. Teach her how to care for something(one) else.
This is too funny! Tonight we were at my moms house and there was a plastic toy bottle/sippy cup. Well, dd went around and fed all of the stuffed toys! This entertained her for most of the evening. She was so excitd about feeding the "babies"

I will definetly try the diaper and stuffed animals! I have some fitted nb dipes that will work great on her babies
post #16 of 28
Hi LaLa! Another suggestion, if you can't put your TV in a cabinet, out of view, if you sew, you could always try to make a big "pillow case" to hang over it when you're not watching it.

I had the same problem, and I too am trying to unlearn the TV habit. I have done what others have already suggested: baby-proof the bathroom and take baby with, along with toys, books, etc.

I now have a cabinet for my tv, but before I had one, I made a cover for the TV so it was out of sight, which in our case was necessary to curb the habit. Wa-la, pull it off when you want to watch. It's better than just throwing a blanket or sheet over it, which I also tried! The kids just pulled it off.

After that, I was a militant no-tv mom, but have since found a middle ground. We pick a show or two to watch in the morning and a show in the afternoon and that's it. Then the TV goes off and I will sometimes turn the radio on or listen to CDs. I don't leave the TV on for background noise. Then the TV doesn't come on again until after the children are in bed and daddy wants to watch his airplanes and racecars!
post #17 of 28

video funk

I also had/have tv issues with my kids who are now 10 and 13. I remember just saying no sometimes (still do). I also don't think as parents we need to always entertain our kids (when they're younger I know this is harder). When they tell me they're bored, I try to offer suggestions or ignore it.

We just got our first home pc and now video games have become an issue. We've tried to set time limits and follow them most of the time. My 13 yr old ds's, friend spent the night a couple of weeks ago and the next morning ds told me that his friend started playing a game and would not stop until 3:00 am (dh and I were asleep). This may sound outrageous to those of you who don't have older kids. It is to me too. My ds spent the night at this kid's house and its total video (tv, tv video games, &/or computer) with no limits. Ds now chooses not to spend the night there. I think he gets tired and bored after a while. This kid is also VERY hyper and seems to be in need of CONSTANT stimulation. It scares me when I think of how this kid may act when he is out on the streets behind the wheel of a car!

We also have friends who have no tv (never had) and their kids are avid readers.

I don't see us getting rid of either the tv or the pc, but I do see us continuing to have to redefine our habits in regards to both.
post #18 of 28
Boy if I had any good ideas, I would sure share them. I just had one thought. I watch so much less tv now that we have cable (it comes with our apartment). I think it is because now that we have so many channels I feel I can be more picky about what I watch. The downside is that ds watches more because of all the cartoon channels.
post #19 of 28
I am a TV junkie, but most of what I watch is on from 9:00-10:00pm (CST ) and the kids are asleep. I don't like the boys (going on four and 16 months) watching a lot of TV. The only time I let them watch is while I am getting ready in the morning. This means a 1/2 hour to and hour depending on how many interruptions I have. My dh lets them watch way too much. He will let them watch from about 7:00am to 10:30am on Saturday mornings (NickJr. on CBS) and about two hours of PBS Sunday mornings before church. I didn't push the issue at first when it was only two hours on Saturday mornings, but suddenly it was more on Saturday and Sunday mornings too. I had a CT scan first thing Monday morning so dh stayed home with them. He turned on the tv when I left the house at 7:00 and it was still on when I got home at 9:15. I was not happy.

He always gives me a hard time about how much he can get done in the mornings with the kids around. I finally had had enough and told him that I could get as much done as he does if I plopped the kids down in front of the TV for hours at a time. Dh used to talk about how terrible those parents are whose kids watch more than 12 hours of TV a week. I finally brought up the fact that they are watching much more TV than he is willing to admit. After all, they get half of that amount with him on the weekend mornings. I told him that has to end and if he can't begin to cut their weekend viewing, I will set up new rules. No more taking the easy way out at the expense of our kids. If I can handle the kids without turning on the tube, so can he.

We recently got a Thomas the Tank Engine CD that my children LOVE. It has a bunch of the songs from the videos and it comes with the words so you can sing along. My older ds has nearly all the words memorized. I'll catch him singing to himself. It is too cute. I pop the CD in when they start begging for TV.

I'm the Big, Bad Mama!!!
post #20 of 28

I forgot...

With my older son I used to unplug the TV when he was a toddler. Now I have taken to putting electrical tape over the buttons so the 16 month old doesn't turn it on. He can't see the buttons so he leaves them alone. I also take one of the batteries out of the remote. The only drawback to the tape thing is that when the remote gets "misplaced" it is a pain to change the channels. I have to feel my way along the buttons.
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