Breaking Your Toddler's Television Habit

It can be difficult breaking your little one from the tv habit or addiction. Many parents opt to let their child watch a little tv here and there which, at first, is harmless but overtime can cause more harm than good. Over time, children tend to want to watch more and more tv and as parents, we want to please our children and it “buys” us more time to get things done around the home. Unfortunately, more tv doesn’t help your child’s development, behavior, or sleep.

What Does TV-Watching Do to My Child?

·         Prolonged exposure to the fast image changes (like that of a tv show or on the computer) during vital periods of brain development can precondition the mind to always want high levels of stimulation. It can cause attention challenges.

·         Reading books and participating in other extracurricular activities (cognitive stimulation activities) are lessened.

·         Research proves that learning suffers when tv is introduced at an early age.

·         It numbs the brain and makes children less active and creative.

·         It prohibits real-time play (like playing with blocks or going outside). Turn off the tv and computer and put the phone away and get outside!!!

How Do I Break the TV Habit?

It’s honestly easier than it sounds. The younger your child is, the easier it is to change certain behaviors. Let your child know the night before the new routine for the morning. Even at a very young age, children understand much more than they can communicate so give them the play-by-play for the new morning routine. “Tomorrow we’re not going to watch tv in the morning after or before breakfast. We are going to do this or that instead.” Acknowledge that you know it may be a difficult transition but that you’ll get through it together.

If your child does throw a fit or scream and cry the next morning when the tv won’t be turned on, acknowledge his or her feelings. Don’t try to distract your child or try to talk him or her out of their feelings. Simply continue to validate their feelings and acknowledge the truth of the difficulty and offer your child lots of snuggles if wanted. It’s VITAL to acknowledge your child’s feelings until they have moved past the difficult mix of emotions and feelings.

Any time your child brings up the frustration of no tv or limited tv, acknowledge his or her feelings and find new ways to encourage independent play for your child. The long-term rewards of this will far outweigh the difficult phase of breaking the tv addiction.