Thursday, February 3, 2011
But the kids - well, they really don't know what they are missing. At first, when we stopped the shows for T Rex, he would ask for one. And I'd allow a 30-60 session of something like Veggie Tales or Sesame Street. This was especially useful when I needed to cook dinner. Then it became every other night, then every third night, then a couple times a week. Now he doesn't even ask and sometimes T Rex Dad and I just need a break to be able to talk about something so we ask if he'd like a show or if it's a special occasion we'll put something holiday related on. (And no, he does not play computer games all day either. In fact, unless it's a school lecture or a blog I'm reading, he doesn't even look at the computer.) And let me tell you, his behavior is significantly improved since the switch. We have had significantly fewer tantrums. And the best part, he is learning to play on his own in the play room - and what an imagination he has!
It's not like I leave him in there unsupervised for hours. Rather, the play room is in direct view from the kitchen. So, while I'm cooking dinner, he will go in there and I can actually see or hear him at all times. He is allowed to close the door to keep his sister out if he wants to play with "choke-ables". The good news is that the room has windows on the door so I can still see in when he does that.
We frequently rotate toys - I pack up some in boxes and pull others out. It keeps them fresh and interesting. We also trade toys with friends and neighbors who also have children about the same age. This is great because we don't have to store some of the bigger toys like the rocking horse or kitchen. And the majority of our toys have come from garage sales, consignment stores, Craigslist, or our favorite thrift store. This allows us to get more toys for less amount. So, keeping the toys interesting is a huge part of this.
I also schedule activities for T Rex during the day. During breakfast time we discuss with the kids what our day is going to entail. We detail out our home activities as well as our outings. We talk about when naps will be, what we're going to do during art time, what books we will be reading during reading time, when free play time will be, as well as what toys he thinks he wants to get out for play time. We plan very full days so there really is not much time for shows. The key with my kids is that we are in a structured routine, they know what to expect from our day, and they really look forward to the events of the day. And we definitely build in flexibility. No battle plan survives contact with the enemy, right?
T Rex Dad and I might watch our DVDs in the evening time before bed, but the kids never see us watching them. Honestly, I think leading by example is also a major part. I know this could be tough if the big game is on or something like that. And I'm not saying, TV is bad and should be avoided completely. We've just made the decision as a family to not have it at this stage in our lives. Maybe down the road we might revisit the topic, but for now, we feel it's best for us.
I believe the key is to keep the television turned off as often as possible. Definitely, switch it off during meal times and don't leave it on as background noise. Keep viewings down to 2 hours or less per day. Ensure those viewings are age appropriate and ideally have some kind of educational component to it. Then talk about what they watched. If possible, interact with them during the show so they don't turn into zombies in front of a one-eyed beast.
Please feel free to offer your own suggestions for getting kids out from in front of the TV. Or offer your own experiences with TV in your home.