Cutting out or significantly reducing your child's TV time means a quieter home, better quality homework time, and more family bonding. Also, it encourages and challenges your child to use his creativity to entertain himself. Not a bad idea.
Did you know, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation:
- 2/3 of infants and toddlers watch an average of two hours of television a day
- Kids under 6 watch an average of four hours a day
- Kids ages 8 to 18 watch an average of four hours of TV a day, with an additional two hours on the computer or playing video games
This is especially alarming since the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations:
- No television for children under the age of two
- Children over the age of two watch no more than 1-2 hours of television per day
I know, no one wants to hear this. Our children's television habits are as guilt-inducing as our own. But cutting out television doesn't have to be hard. It's more about training us parents than the kids. Yes, it's easier to sit them in front of the television while we're getting things done. But does it have to be on in the background all the time? Here are some very simple ways to introduce a limited television schedule into your child's routine.
Cut television time in half
Start small. Allow your kids to choose their top one or two programs and that's it. For younger kids, introduce a kitchen timer. Once the time is up, they have to find something else to do. Moping, whining and complaining can result in less TV the next day. This lets them know you mean business. If your kids still watch quite a bit of television, try cutting another 50% in about a month.
Track their progress
This is especially helpful for the younger tykes. Get a calendar and place stars or stickers on the days they quit watching without whining or moping. Once they collect enough stars, treat them to their favorite ice cream place, or make a craft with them on the weekend. The idea is to show them (and you) the benefits of giving up television.
Invest in some board games
Uno, Phase 10, Apples to Apples, Balderdash, Scattegories, Scrabble, Chutes and Ladders, and Candyland are just a handful of the great family games available. After dinner one night a week, set up a game and watch how quickly it becomes a family tradition.
In our kitchen, we have a huge drawer that is always stuffed with coloring books, paper, crayons, paints and glue so the kids can make art whenever they feel "moved." This is also a great distraction for when they want to watch one more show. Nope, it's art time. You need to finish decorating that card for Emma.
Pandora kids radio
If you haven't yet, go over to Pandora and create a radio station that your kids will love. We love the "Elmo Song" radio. Whenever the kids are craving a movie, I throw on that station and watch them boogie to the beat. Who knew "Wheels on the Bus" could be so funky?
Whether it's a fort out of sheets or a Lego castle, encourage their sense of creativity. Trust me, they'll be so busy having fun, they'll forget about how much they miss Sponge Bob. And you'll remember what sanity feels like without Patrick's voice bellowing in the background constantly.
If you're struggling sticking to it, there are many other ways you can manage your child's TV time. Just be consistent, tune in to where your kids are and turn off their voices nagging for more.