What to do about the TV - advice needed please! - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 18 Old 02-02-2003, 09:57 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Well, it seems I did something really stupid. I got my son some videos! For some reason it seemed harmless enough at the time, but it was a mistake.

DS is almost two, and a month ago when DH was out of town, I got so tired that I bought DS his first videos. I thought they could provide me a little free time in the evening while DH was away, and at first they did just that. But gradually they've taken over! My DS is a very, very intense child, and does everything full tilt. He doesn't settle for just one video, and I don't want to have constant tantrums about wanting another video. Now he watches them waaay too much, and isn't doing as much of the stuff he used to love to do, like reading books, helping with the pet care, and playing He is dancing and running and jumping a lot more though, and I do honestly think the Wiggles deserve the credit for that, since he copies their dance moves when we dance around.

DH and I don't watch TV, and we thought DS wouldn't either. We want to get back to that way of living now, while DS is young and the habit has only been going a month. It's going to be so hard though, and I'm expecting crying/tantruming/screaming... I want to go about it the best way possible. So I'm wondering, what would you do? Would you go cold turkey? Would you tell him in advance, have some sort of ritual of putting the videos away, just keep saying no, or what?? I don't think DS would understand or respond to much talking about it, or even rituals like throwing the videos away... but who knows. And he just weaned off bottles a couple of weeks ago - would you wait to tackle the videos because of that, or just go ahead and get it over with? I feel really guilty about starting this whole mess

Thanks for listening everybody!
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#2 of 18 Old 02-03-2003, 04:20 AM
 
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I'm wondering if it would help to have a set time that he can watch them if he wants, like an hour. Set the timer and turn the video's off for the day when the timer goes off. In our house the timer has helped. It seems that the kids take it as a diplomatic solution.

DS 12 DS 9 DD 6
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#3 of 18 Old 02-03-2003, 08:08 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Yes, but that just doesn't seem to work with him. It just results in crying and tantruming for the videos all day, every day. I think he doesn't get why I say yes sometimes and not other times, because he's so young. Also, he's just a real all or nothing kind of person. It was the same with the bottles - he wasn't the sort of kid who'd just take a bottle before bed and cups the rest of the time. He had bottles for every bit of milk, then a couple days later he was completely done with them. I *wish* I could just show one or two shows a day and have that be it, but it just seems too confusing for him.
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#4 of 18 Old 02-03-2003, 11:37 AM
 
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Wow! I've just gone through the exact same situation. Grandma gave DS a video for Christmas. Didn't open it for weeks until DH went away. I finally gave it a try and holy cow - instant addict!!!

Fortunately it turns out the grandma proved to be the answer to the problem. She babysat for a little while the other day and didn't know how to operate the DVD player so... no Monkey! (this is a baby einstein video).

Now he did ask for it again later but we were able to distract him from it with other things much more easily than before the video free time with grandma. It was like that time just broke the spell a little bit.

The only problem we have now is that we absolutely cannot turn the tv on with him around unless we want to hear demands for the monkey. Also, if we put the video in, one viewing is not enough.

Some kids are good self-regulators with TV, others are not. Mine definitely isn't so I'm now thinking long and hard before I put that damn video in again!
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#5 of 18 Old 02-03-2003, 02:41 PM
 
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I'd be tempted to go "cold turkey", but then how to deal wtih the ensuing tantrums that you say will follow? Change his routine and replace video watching with something else new and different. Perhaps a new climbing toy? Or something that is very interesting to him. Go outside at the usual video time (weather permitting). Distract him, in other words, as best you can. Give him something else he can be intense about. And since you say you don't watch tv anyway, why not just put the tvs away for awhile, maybe 6 months or a year and then revisit the situation later? I wouldn't wait - a one month habit is easier to break than a 3 month or 6 month habit.
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#6 of 18 Old 02-03-2003, 03:04 PM
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We also just got dd (20 mo) some videos, and she, too, wants to watch them constantly. We've found, though, that she's learned when the appropriate "video watching" time is, that we only watch for about a half hour, and that once the video is turned off, that's it. She'll sometimes throw a brief tantrum, but that's it, particularly since we're quick to suggest and then start doing other fun activities as soon as the time's up. We were gentle but firm about when she could and couldn't watch videos, and the fact that when time's up, it's up and that's that.
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#7 of 18 Old 02-03-2003, 11:30 PM
 
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Susan,

I could written you post a few weeks ago. DS (two) had always been so good about just watching for 20 minutes a couple of times a day. He wouldn't ask beyond that and I felt that was fine.

Well, a few weeks before his second birthday, I realized that he was starting to ask more and more. I was keeping my limits firm but started having to say no many more times a day than I wanted to. I just didn't want to be the TV police anymore. And so.........

We went COLD TURKEY! Took the TV out of the house. And you know what? It's been such a relief! And... he's been absolutely fine with it from moment one. Yes, he's asked and I've told him this: "The TV went bye bye for a while so that mommy, Daddy and Gibson can spend more time together." He was fine with it. I was shocked.

Moreover, since the TV has been gone, he has been happier, more active, more creative, talking more and even sleeping better. I OTOH, have just felt a whole lot better about things... I'm not worrying all the time whether or not I'm harming or if he's going to be upset if I say no to more TV.

My approach to going cold turkey on the TV was to make sure that I had plenty of time to spend with DS in those first few days. I had lots of stuff planned (some outtings, creative and not so creative fun stuff at home--just being together). What I realized is that he'd much rather be spending time with me DOING than in the den WATCHING. But I think deep down, I already knew that.

And herein lies the best part... since we've turned off the TV, DS and I are feel more connected than ever. Not only do we have a better, more connected time together. I've also noticed that with the step up of his creativity and imagination, he's also more capable of spending more time playing independently.

Whatever you decide, best of luck!

Em 43 - Wife to hubby Mom to DS born: Jan. '01
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#8 of 18 Old 02-04-2003, 12:12 AM
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I know tantrums can be annoying, but really, what's wrong with tantrums? It sounds like your expecting them so can you get yourself ok with them? It's just him asserting himself and letting you know what he wants. How about, "I know, sweetheart, you want to watch a video, but we already watched our one for today" or "remember, sweetheart, mom and dad talked to you about the videos going away?"

I find with my son the more I remind him of things the better he is and he's just turned two.

Sure, he'll tantrum, but if you stick to the limits you and your partner have laid out for your family they won't last indefinitely. He will adjust.
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#9 of 18 Old 02-05-2003, 05:48 PM
 
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Matthew (10) was the type of kid who would literally drule in front of the TV for hours if given the chance. Glassy stare, comunication with others consited of grunts or no response at all, slack face and everything! Our solution? What TV? We just don't have it in the house. Now, he's reading through college level. He started watching a lot of TV when he was still a baby, and I think that has a lot to do with his "addiction". What I do with our 2 year old when he just "has to have" something, but I don't feel I can let him have or use for some reason, is to either tell him it's gone (doesn't work when object is in sight) or that it's broken. I know it's not very honest, but reasoning with a 2 year old just doesn't work that well sometimes.
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#10 of 18 Old 02-05-2003, 08:05 PM
 
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Susan, the same thing happened to us!! I bought 3 Wiggles videos when DS was 20 months old and very ill and needed something to entertain him, unfortunately he became addicted.
I first tried letting him watch them until he was bored with them, which worked ok. After 3 or 4 days constant video playing (which he often didn't watch, but wanted to be able to hear) I changed my tactic and started planning our entire day out of the house. We put the videos away and did not turn on the television at all. I didn't have to, but you could go as far as waiting until he is asleep one night and removing the VCR and even the TV if you think it's necessary. This would be considered extremely coercive in some circles, but if your priority is to keep your DS from watching TV because you think it is damaging, then it would be an option.
Good luck whatever you decide, and I hope it's not too upsetting for him.
Steph
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#11 of 18 Old 02-05-2003, 11:04 PM
 
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we're quitting videos too (we haven't had tv for a year , so it's just dvd/vhs). when dd asks over and over for the lion king, i've started playing the cd, which satisfies her, and i find with the cd she tries to sing to it (which she didn't so much do when she was also watching it) and she manages to do other stuff too, instead of just being a baby couch potatoe. So, maybe if you try getting some cds of the videos he likes, it could help transition you out of the constant videos?
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#12 of 18 Old 02-06-2003, 12:28 AM
 
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There is a lot to be said for just letting the tantrums happen. I'd be inclined to decide what your limit is for TV and then stick with it. Around our house everyone over the age of three is allowed to choose three half-hour tv shows a week. My five year old always watches all three on Saturday morning and my eight year old hoards hers and never gets around to watching them because she is too busy with real life. When the five year old asks for extra time, I tell him that he can watch again next week.

It is hard to live with tantrums, but it is also hard to live with someone who is a zombie in front of the tv. As the adult in the situation, you are stuck deciding which one you want your child to be.
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#13 of 18 Old 02-06-2003, 01:10 AM
 
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My son (will be 3 in March) is also very intense, strong-willed, energetic, etc.

I was beginning to let him watch Sesame Street when he was 2 yr old. (I thought it was 30 minutes, it was 1 hour!) He quickly got addicted. (Why did I wait till age 2? Because the AAP advises against TV before the age of 2... I figured it was OK after 2 - NOT... same reasons why you should not let your kid watch before 2 apply after 2... read Endangered Minds to learn more.)

Then one day I was at the book store and picked up Jane Healy's book ENDANGERED MINDS: WHY CHILDREN DON'T THINK AND WHAT YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/t...=books&n=507846

I couldn't put it down and bought it on the spot (something I rarely do.)

Basically, educators from every grade level have seen basic attention span and problem solving skills PLUMMET in this country over the past 30 yrs. According to them (she talked to numerous teachers around the country and scientists) they have had to "dumb down" the material... offer material to their students that were meant for younger students.

Why??? Healy surmises that TV watching actually SHAPES the brain (still developing in the formative years). Actually, all experience shapes the brain... but TV watching is not very good for the things we humans are meant to do... namely reasoning.

My son no longer watches TV, but DH & I watch movies at night on TiVO or DVDs, while he sleeps.

If you care at all about TV in your family and how they could be affecting learning, please read this book.

We went COLD TURKEY. Yeah, he asked for it EVERY DAY for a few weeks, but then he stopped asking. He forgot about it. Of course, you need to BE STRONG and be there to offer an alternative (I like to read stories to him) play, storytime, peek-a-boo, whatever.

I pretty much agree with every single word Embee wrote. I am SO HAPPY my son can be creative and play by himself (pretending). Play is SO important to children.

That book gave me the strength to do it.

PS I also have a LEARNING TOWER (advertised in Mothering Mag) and he helps me prepare meals (gives him an activity to do other than watching TV.)
http://www.littlepartners.com/

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#14 of 18 Old 02-06-2003, 01:15 AM
 
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I know this isn't a "no TV for kids under 2" thread, but just wanted to share the following:

The AAP has reviewed the issue and is advising against TV for babies under 2.
http://www.aap.org/family/tv1.htm

I read a very interesting article in theApril 2000 issue of "American Baby" and I kept the issue. Here are some excerpts from that article. (Well, like I said, I THOUGHT TV after 2 was "OK" but Jane Healy's book showed me it was not.)
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/AS...896286-3615202

* Doctors fear that prolonged exposure to the tube could impair babies' vision, hearing and attention span.

* "The fact that television's a good babysitter is not enough of a justification for using it when a TV habit might make it more difficult for a child to learn later on," asserts educational psychologist Jane Healy, PhD, author of Endangered Minds: Why Children Don't Think - and what We can Do about it (1999)

* Although there is little research on television's direct impact on a baby's neural growth, we do know that, in a baby under 2, parts of the brain are going through what's called "synaptic exuburance," during which there are twice as many synpases in the cerebral cortex as there were during adulthood. Babies are absoring the world at warp speed, and this is the most critical period for language and visual development. Also, at around 18 months, the front right part of the baby's brain - which controls the way he relates to other people - hits a vital developmental period.

* "Television can't really be used as downtime for babies because it's full of overwhelming sounds and flashing colors," says Susan Johnson, MD a behavioral and developmental pediatrician. "Babies are born with eyes developed to look at the human face, so downtime for them means quiet, calm snuggling with their mother or father." Dr. J suggests, let your baby lie on a blanket and watch light stream into a room, or sit her outside where she can take in the sights and smells of the outdoors.

* Contrary to parents' hopes or beliefs that television can actually teach kids somethings, such as the alphabet or new vocabulary words, most experts say that kids under 2 get so absorbed in the visual stimulation of the TV that they tune out most of the words entirely.

* Lise Eliot, PhD, author of What's Going on in There? How the Brain and Mind Develop in the First Five Years of Life(1999), cites a study in which pediatricians regularly placed the hearing children of deaf parents in front of "Sesame Street" to see whether they'd learn to speak. They didn't.

* "Babies learn language by talking to real, live people." Dr. Eliot says. "Research shows that babies will listen to a television but won't process the noises at the same level as if someone where speaking to them." So if you are counting along with the television character, your child may begin to pick up numbers, but he probably won't learn them from the show alone.

* In addition, some experts feel that the poor sound quality coming from a television may actually impair a child's hearing if he's around it long enough.

* "Listening to noises kept on one basic plane--at the same volume level and coming from just one source -isn't a good way to get sound." says Dr. Johnson. "In nature, sound is coming from all around. But with TV, children learn to turn off background noises. Then later on, when they're away from the television, it can be harder for them to tell where sounds are coming from."

* Also, Dr. J says, because television is just a stationary box, young children aren't getting vital eye exercise when they watch it. While staring at the flat, two-dimensional screen, they're pulled away from three-dimensional activities.

* "Skipping out on those diversions is a critical loss, since such play can help a child's 3D vision, which is maturing up until the age of 4, says Dr. Johnson.

* "When people have had eye surgery, they're told to watch TV because it fixes their eyeball in one place so it can heal. But if you show television often to a child too young to read, the growth of the eyeball can be distorted. All of the sudden, he'll go to the first grade and be asked to read something left to right, and his eyes will feel fatigued."

* A baby's eyes become locked to the screen because the images change every five or six seconds and require constant attention. Which leads to another problem: "If they're watching rapidly changing images, I don't think (babies) can process them quickly enough. We may be miswiring their attention systems." says Dr. Eliot.

* If a baby becomes accustomed to seeing a continual stream of action, then when she's not watching TV, her eyes might jump around the room to catch the next engaging visual change.

* "Normal infant activities like playing with a toy or looking at a person promot a longer visual attention span away from the TV." Dr. Eliot says.

* "In the brain, there's a survival response that causes us to pay attention to something fast-paced," says Gloria DeGaetano, author of Screen Smarts: A Family Guide to Media Literacy (1996) and the director of GrowSmartBrains.com, an education and resource organization. "Our nervous systems are revved up by the visual onslaught, but we stay sitting still. "This affects the youngest kids the most. They get a lot of pent up energy and anxiety from watching TV; then they act out just to burn it all off," DeGaetano says.

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#15 of 18 Old 02-06-2003, 10:23 AM
 
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Hey Tanya, Welcome to the boards!!
One of the moderators may email you and ask you to edit the number of quotes in your post. I think there's a word limit for quotes from other sources so that copyright law isn't violated. They might have that info in the rules and guildelines section.
Back on topic, I'm going to get that book TODAY!! I am anti-TV, but my family thinks I'm depriving DS because he doesn't know who the Teletubbies are. Now, this is something I'm proud of, I wish they could understand.
Steph
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#16 of 18 Old 02-06-2003, 09:47 PM
 
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Tanya, that is a great book; I've read it!

Maybe I'm dense, but I'm not really sure what the problem is...: I mean, if you don't mind your son watching, let's say, one video a day, then fine, and if he asks for another, say no, and if he throws a tantrum, well, let him. Am I oversimplifying? You say he is now "watching way too much" because of this, but someone has to be allowing him to watch it. I'm not trying to pick on you, but getting rid of the tv altogether (unless that is what you truly want) also means getting rid of an excellent opportunity to help your son understand limits. Kind of like, if two kids were fighting over a toy, putting the toy away teaches them nothing, but helping them find a way to share teaches a lot. Make sense?

Why not give him a concrete "token" he can exchange for the video every day, like a sticker on his shirt that you put on in the morning, and he has to give it to you in exchange for the video? Then, when he asks for more, you can say, "Oh, look, no more sticker - no more videos today!" I'm not sure how well this would work with a two-year-old, but I find that giving the authority to an inanimate object that can't be argued with is very effective in getting rid of nagging - kids only nag PEOPLE!
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#17 of 18 Old 02-07-2003, 07:10 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Wow! Thanks everybody for all these great replies. They are really well thought out and I so appreciate it.

I like the idea of getting rid of the TV for a while, but the TV we have is actually a 60" wide screen built in to the wall. I know, it's freaky, but it came with the house! It is really neat for videos... anyway there's no reasonable way to take it out for a while. We did think of a way to cover it up though, after hearing your suggestions.

Sahara- I loved that you said you tried just letting your child watch all the time for days so he'd get tired of it. We tried that exact same thing! Oh my gosh, isn't it amazing that they can watch the same couple of videos over and over and over... I was about to scream But it didn't work for us either.

I really do like the token for a video each day idea, but the truth is I don't think my son would "get it" yet. It's not like it would be one tantrum and then over with, kwim? He's so stubborn, I think he'd keep it up all day, and then have no idea why first thing the next morning I suddenly agreed to a video again. Embee, I think you explained it better then me when you said you were having to say no more than you wanted to and you were tired of being the TV police. All day battles, every day, are very exhausting for everyone involved. I know some kids his age who could understand and go along with that kind of limit, but my DS isn't one of them. I think it's a matter of personality differences. It seems more clear cut while he's still so young to just eliminate them entirely. Then when he's older and more "reasonable" we could do something like one/day.

So I think we're going to go with the "cold turkey" suggestion. That way we'll have tantrums for two or three days, and then hopefully it will be over. I liked the suggestion someone had of spending a lot of time on outings those first few days, and we'll definitely do that. Thanks everyone!
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#18 of 18 Old 02-07-2003, 12:38 PM
 
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Susan, glad to hear the thread helped. We have a 42" wide screen TV (also a monster) but not as big as whoa - yours!

Point is, we "can't" go TV free either. I wish I could. DH loves his "toys" too much. Fine by me. But I can definitely still say no to TV for our son in the meantime (finding other fun activities for him/us to do) and I don't want to allow video games either (my 12 yr old stepson is currently addicted to that and tuning out DH when he visits him - great.)

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