I've had a difficult time weaning my toddlers (twins, 20 months old) off the TV.
Part of this has to do with our lifestyle. Video games are my husband's main hobby. When he's not doing that, he's usually streaming something (for example, a sitcom or talk radio). I work from home, write, and attend online college courses. So, although I rarely watch TV during the day, it appears to my toddlers that I'm on the computer all day.
It's difficult to wean the twins off the internet when it appears that we spend a great deal of time online ourselves, even if our purposes are different.
They enjoy being read to, and they have plenty of toys, but it has been challenging to figure out a way to reduce their screen time. They throw fits when their shows aren't on, and we're a bit concerned about its effect on attention span/mood over time.
What would be the best way to go about this? Should I just wait it out or is there a way to start now? Thank you.
Thank you for your question. I applaud your decision to put a stop to television viewing by your twins. Research shows that television has no positive effects at all for children under age 2. Their brains are not yet developed enough to learn from a screen and even "baby videos" can contribute to cognitive delays. Just having the TV on in the background is enough to delay language development.
Television prevents children from learning to occupy their time creatively and constructively. The more you use the television to occupy your children, the more likely it is that they are going to pester you when it is not on. And the more you use the television to free up time for yourself, the more dependent on it your children - and YOU - will become.
The good news is that 20-month-old children can be redirected fairly easily. They are busy for sure, and can be trying. Using Alpha Speech when directing/correcting them will be key to changing behaviors. They need to know that you are in charge and mean business. If this period in their development is adequately nurtured by you and your husband, long term payoffs will result. On the other hand, if the children are consistently seeing their mother and father on the computer and/or watching television, a clear message is being sent about what is important.
You have identified the problem and, based on the information you included in your question, you also know that you and your husband have created the problem through your lifestyle and personal choices (video games, streaming, computer usage....). So, no more blaming lifestyle and/or making excuses (i.e. "I rarely", "Its' awkward", "it appears that" )! The next step is to make the necessary adjustments in order to get your little ones on a better track and off of the TV altogether.
As your children become more independent, they will be able to entertain themselves for longer periods of time. In the meantime, time management is critical. As a stay at home mother, you may have to adjust your work time so that you are on the computer during their naps, after they go to bed in the evening, and on weekends when your husband is available to help you. You may even consider hiring a babysitter for a few hours a week to allow you some concentrated work time, at least until you finish your online schooling. Likewise, your husband needs to hold off on video game playing, streaming, etc. until the children are in bed or in a separate room.
I am confident that you and your husband can conquer this problem. Stay determined to accomplish your mission. Your children are absolutely worth it and you will all be happier in the long run!
Certified Leadership Parenting Coach
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