Many parents worry about the amount of time their children spend watching the television and it can be hard to get the balance right.
Some parents ban TV altogether like this lady who says that banning TV completely sorted out her child’s attention difficulties at school. Other parents have the TV on all the time, using it as a kind of babysitter. Television can be a fantastic tool for both education and relaxation, but we have to make conscious choices about what to watch and when. Here are some ideas on how we can encourage our kids to have a healthy relationship with TV:
1. Keep the TV out of your child’s bedroom; bedrooms should be about sleep and play.
2. If your child is very young, keep TV viewing to a couple of 10 -15 minute slots a day at the most. An hour a day is plenty for the under 2s.
3. Choose specific programs to watch using the TV listings.
4. Watch TV with your child and discuss what you’re seeing.
5. Carry on the learnings after the TV show, for example, if you’ve seen an episode of Topsy and Tim where they’ve baked cakes, make some in real life.
6. Encourage your child to sit well back from the TV. If they keep moving closer, you may want to check that their eyesight is ok with a qualified optician.
7. Have other activities available, for example, puzzles, toys and things to make and do. Children’s curiosity can easily be diverted away from the big box!
8. Choose gentle children’s programs that encourage interaction such as shows that ask children to get up and move, ones that ask them questions or get them thinking.
9. Research shows that violent programs can encourage similar behaviour in reality. Your child’s brain is extremely plastic meaning that neurological pathways are being formed that dictate patterns of behaviour and social skills. Avoid scary and violent stuff; it’s totally inappropriate for young children.
10. Don’t allow your child to watch TV too close to bedtime. We need to wind down at the end of the day so that we can sleep well. Over stimulation just before sleep is a recipe for a restless night.
How about you? Do you use the TV as a babysitter? I know I’ve had my moments…