Curbing the TV Obsession - Mothering Forums

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Old 08-14-2014, 09:20 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Curbing the TV Obsession

My 2.5 year old has developed a habit of CONSTANTLY pestering to "watch a movie." From wakeup to bedtime, if we're home, she's like a broken record. "Canwewatchamovie?" "No." "Canwewatchamovie?" "Not now, but you can before dinner." "Canwewatchamovie?" "It's not movie time right now." "But we HAVE to watch a movie!" (tantrum). It's gotten so bad that when her beloved grandparents come to visit, she runs and hugs them and says, "Canwewatchamovie?"


We do let her watch some PBS shows on Netflix - I'm not totally opposed to TV, I think it can be enjoyable and has its place in very limited quantities. A 25-minute Curious George is perfect for getting dinner ready or unwinding after a playdate. 30 minutes a day would be OK with me.

However, this obsession is driving me so totally insane I'm about to rip the TV off the wall and beat it to smithereens. She has art supplies, trains and cars, a play kitchen, sandbox, small trampoline, riding toys, and books. She's always invited to stand on a chair and help cook, or to participate in household chores. Occasionally she does, but most of the time she just batters me to death to watch a damn movie.

I love being at home, and I'm sad that I can't seem to cajole my toddler into participating in - and enjoying - home life with me.

I hate to get rid of it altogether, but is that the only answer? Would a 30-day "fast" shift the waters? One idea I had was to put the TV someplace other than the living room - it looms large and tempting over the fireplace. Or should I replace it with a more educational type of screen (such as a LeapPad)? Will preschool (starting in a few weeks) change the dynamics? I don't know. Any ideas?
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Old 08-14-2014, 12:49 PM
 
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I have to say, for us, the only solution was getting rid of TV altogether. Our daughter will be 3 in November and we stopped the videos/movies a couple months ago and it's SUCH a relief. I swear it's like giving an alcoholic "just" 2 drinks a day - it'll be all (s)he thinks about 24/7! Life is way better without the videos, seriously. She never even asks anymore and I feel like overall she's more regulated and calm. Good luck!

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Old 08-14-2014, 12:56 PM
 
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Ugh. TV is such a problem. My daughter is 3.5 and we started tv at about 2.5. I found that putting it on a schedule works really well (and one of the VERY few things I schedule into our day). She now watches 30 minutes a day around 10am, and then she knows that's it. It took a while to establish that it was all she was going to be able to watch, and until then she would ask (a lot) and throw a tantrum when I said no (and she's not a tantrum-thrower). With my husband on the other hand it's more random, and since she knows it's always a possibility with him she always asks (so if I am sleeping in one morning, she'll pester him to watch tv even though she never does with me in the morning). Maybe setting a schedule (like one show right before dinner) so that she doesn't "have to" always ask - she knows when it will turn on and when it won't.
When I was really sick earlier this year we watched a lot of tv while my husband was at work, and for a couple of weeks after that, it was a problem again, but we got over it.
Also, to deter ourselves and my stepdaughter when she was younger (but older than a toddler), we found it really effective to put the tv in a less-central location, and once even got rid of it completely (which was really nice while it lasted)
The tube is soooo addictive!!
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Old 08-14-2014, 08:07 PM
 
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We have the same requests at times, but we too schedule it. Her dad told her that when she asks for tv outside of the time that it is scheduled then no tv. We do one episode of Daniel tiger per day, in the am so I can do my chores. It works ok at our house.
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Old 08-18-2014, 11:39 AM
 
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I'm so glad to hear that other people have the same struggles and doubts about TV that we do! Some of the parents I know IRL are just totally calm about it: "Oh, we let them watch anytime they don't need to be doing something else, and it's no problem. You've made it into a problem by setting so many limits." and I don't think it's really true, but it makes me feel bad.

Setting up specific times when TV is allowed is really the best way, especially for toddlers, because you can simply say, "This is not movie time. This is bath time. Let's go!" (or whatever time it is). Another thing that helps is having some other activities your child can do while you're busy that are clearly defined, so you don't just say, "Go play with your toys," but, "You can play with trains or Play-doh." Distracting the child with what she CAN do usually works better than dwelling on the subject of what she can't do right now and why not and when will she be able to do it and all those irritating questions that so easily multiply as verbal ability improves!

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Old 08-18-2014, 12:46 PM
 
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We are avoiding tv 100% during the week and only allowing ourselves something for the whole family once per weekend. Sometimes mommy and daddy cheat and watch tv while folding laundry or doing dishes at night though! So far it's not an issue, but my daughter is younger and not asking for things yet.

I wouldn't consider a leap pad a solution, just a new addiction to curb later when she starts asking for an ipad. Mine is a pricy solution, but cheaper than an ipad!

Get a learning tower! Put it in the kitchen. Give her things to do while you cook. That's our next big purchase we are saving for as a family .

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Old 08-18-2014, 03:53 PM
 
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We were TV free for years, even before I was divorced. Now, we have a TV in our room, that's hooked up to a dish, but it gets watched only a few times a year (sports, olympics). We also have a TV in the living room, but that's for Xbox and the occasional movie. My older kids (21, 18, 16 and 13) have no real desire to watch TV programming. The Xbox is usually used after dinner by the younger two, especially when they have friends over. That said, they usually play board games or outside ball games with friends. We live rurally and they would rather go outside for walks, etc.

DP and I feel very strongly about family dinner and conversation. If a movie is being watched, we usually watch it as a group, or at least the big kids do. (DP and I often go to bed early with the toddler). Unfortunately, my big kids' father doesn't share the same values. Every meal with him is spent in front of the TV. They often watch the same movie multiple times.

Our 16 month old doesn't watch any TV. He's occasionally up when his big siblings are playing Xbox, but he doesn't pay any attention to it. He's far too busy being active!

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Old 08-18-2014, 05:26 PM
 
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I think that limiting TV depends on the child and their personality.

My first child was like you describe. She had a very hard time regulating TV. I suspect that's in part because it was a bit of "forbidden fruit" because we limited it quite a bit. The solution for her as she got older was to limit it 100% and then allow it sort of unadulterated at other times. When she was younger (say around 4) we would do that by letting a group of kids totally gorge on TV during a evening adult party. As she got older she was allowed TV on Friday night and Saturday only but pretty much unlimited. She's grown out of her obsession and has few restrictions now because she really doesn't crave screen time.

My younger grew up with far less restrictions and is much more "take it or leave it" with TV. She will also ask for a show and then ignore it and play with other things and not even notice when I turn it off. She had an absolute fit about TV yesterday though. In retrospect she was just really tired. But I didn't like the way TV was the central focus or the only way she could think to sooth herself. I was sure to have a TV-free stretch starting today so I'm sure she isn't dependent on it.

One common thing between my two different TV watchers is that I think days with no TV are important, however that breaks down for your own child.

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Old 08-18-2014, 10:31 PM
 
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After I posted on here, I realized that maybe this kind of mentality I have is creating a forbidden fruit, as the PP said. Interesting point! However, even if their attitude about it is better, more TV is still worse for the eyes and brain than less TV.

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Old 08-19-2014, 12:45 AM
 
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TV in moderation is not bad however too much television can affect a child's brain development. It can interfere their playing time which is important for physical and social development of the child. Try doing activities with her like baking or coloring activities and start set her viewing limits.

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Old 08-19-2014, 08:48 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by cynthiamoon View Post
Get a learning tower! Put it in the kitchen. Give her things to do while you cook. That's our next big purchase we are saving for as a family .
This is on my wish list! Have you seen the DIY plans from Anna White? Planning to build this (in all my free time while my kid watches TV ), although in the meantime we pull a chair into the kitchen. She used to love helping me cook, or "cooking" her plastic Easter eggs beside me. Lately, though, she refuses. The TV thing has become a THING. Maybe it's the "forbidden fruit" idea. Maybe she's just trying to get my goat because she's two. Or not getting enough sleep, or under-stimulated and ready for preschool to start.

I don't know, but it's annoying! It's a real personal pet peeve of mine, and maybe she's picking up on that. You know, I just realized that this summer we've been much more lax about bedtime, enjoying long summer evenings running and playing outside. Tonight she didn't go to bed til 9:30. Back in the winter and spring when it got dark earlier, she went to bed more like 8:00. I wonder if some of this is coming from fatigue? It's worth exploring...

Thanks for the tips! Some great ideas about different ways to set limits.
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Old 08-19-2014, 09:20 PM
 
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Bedtime over-fatigue is definitely happening over here. DD was going to bed at 6:30 in the spring at our old place, which got less light. When we moved and shook everything up, she started going to bed at 7-- 8-- 9-- ... As soon as night started falling earlier now as we near fall she started going back to bed at 7 or 8.

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Old 08-21-2014, 09:33 AM
 
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We started experiencing the same thing when our son was 2, we decided to get rid of the TV. Entirely. As in we do not own a TV anymore. He asked about the TV one time after that and we simply told him it 'went byebye'. Out of sight, out of mind ;-) And that was the last we heard of the TV, our families bond has become SO much stronger because it encouraged us to be creative together, think of new games, and much more outside time. We went without TV for around 6 months and now we have allowed 1 family movie of his choice per week on the computer. Never have regretted our decision! Good luck!
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Old 08-21-2014, 12:04 PM
 
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We went without TV for around 6 months and now we have allowed 1 family movie of his choice per week on the computer.
I definitely think that for some personalities (like my first DC) a long and complete break is the way to go. We've done that with her for a few things in the past. The key as the PP has said is to break it and replace it with something more enriching and interesting as a family.

As for "TV Free" but using the computer as a TV/Media/Movie device, I think that is more and more common (this has been the case for this tech family for over 12 years!). It's a good idea to talk to "TV-free" families to see if they welcome media in their homes and how.

There are advantages to stepping outside cable and those ways of watching media. We just stayed at a friends house for 10 days and the kids had regular cable style TV. There is a sort of bombardment and a style of between-show manipulation that creates an even worse habit, IMO.

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Old 08-24-2014, 11:08 PM
 
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Advice for the OP: get your TV out of sight: hide it, get a cabinet to hide it, something! Out of sight, out of mind. At 2.5 they are in the moment a lot, if the moment has a TV screen in sight, they will want the TV.

TV is compelling for most people, you've gotta admit! My oldest does something similar on some days, asking a lot for a "show," now presenting it slyly like, "Hey! I have an idea! How about we watch ____!"

I totally understand using a show as a means to an end: getting the baby down to sleep, making another cup of coffee, breathing and thinking, doing some stain removal . . .

But yeah, it gets out of hand! I feel like there is a huge difference in a kid's ability to compromise and adjust between 2.5 and 3 and I have to say I think it does get better with time. He used to harass me about it; now he endlessly suggests it.

One thing that works here is to make "show time" predictable - like here for example, a day alone with mom means that at 9:00 you watch about 30 minutes. I give at least two warnings that the end of the show is coming and say what activity we are doing next (I plan ahead to make sure there is something really appealing coming - a walk to a special place, making a favorite food, eating a favorite food, a playdate, an outing to a favorite place). My kid is persistent, like yours. It's hard! You have to be sneaky and plan ahead; you have to kind of trick them. About half the time there is a tantrum, albeit short.

Just basically saying, I am with you in your ambivalence and exasperation. TV is a beast. I get so tired of hearing about it in my boy's pretend play. It takes extra planning and creativity to replace TV once you've introduced it and I applaud any effort you make to do that. We are working on that here, too. But if it is a way to get the extra time you need to be a good mommy . . . I totally get it.
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Old 08-25-2014, 02:42 PM
 
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Why is TV viewed as a bad thing? It can be quite educational and fun. I grew up on TV and I'm ok, better than ok actually. My 3 year old loves TV and using an iPad for games and YouTube. She's one the smartest in her class. TV time can be quality time, too. Sit with her, engage her and watch her learn.
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Old 08-25-2014, 03:07 PM
 
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TV is thought to replace other more valuable learning experiences. So, while a little TV can be OK in early childhood (although it is recommended to avoid screen-time all together until after 2), TV time is inferior to other ways of engaging and learning about the world. This is not to say that some TV isn't ok and pleasurable for kids but to honor parents who choose to limit or be conscientious about screen time.

An interesting case went on when my older child was young. A company called "Little Einstein" was ordered to stop claiming that their programming was education because, in fact, TV may well not be more educational than other activities for kids.

There are lots of studies and articles about this topic, which should come up with a simple internet search.

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Old 08-26-2014, 08:20 AM
 
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Why is TV viewed as a bad thing?
Early television viewing increases obesity and decreases school engagement. Early television viewing changes the arteries in the eyes, increasing the risk of high blood pressure. Early television viewing swamps babies with stimuli they don’t understand yet find so visually compelling that it’s hard for them to look away. The earlier television viewing becomes part of a person’s routine, the harder it will be for them to live without it–and watching television, though it can be fun, is in most ways a waste of time. That's why I keep my kids away from the screen as much as possible until 2 years old and then limit screen time (including computer as well as TV) to less than 2 hours a day except for the occasional family movie night.

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Old 09-11-2014, 10:57 AM
 
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I think it's addictive. My daughter's (22 months) behavior is infinitesimally better when there is NO tv whatsoever. We used to allow her to watch a dvd player on long car rides to keep her from screaming because she hated the car and complained even on short rides. Well, lo and behold, by removing the dvd player all together she got used to the car and now has fun looking out the windows for things she recognizes and rarely ever even whines in the car. She was complaining because she associated the car with tv and wanted it on all the time!

Ditto for at home. If a little tv works its way in, she whines a lot more and has trouble entertaining herself without it. In the moment, it really does help me get dinner done but the price is too high. It just cannot be good for a growing mind.
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