Oh, TV. I have such a love/hate relationship with you. On one hand, you provide me with Nashville and for that, many hugs. On the other hand, you seem to have a stronghold on my three-and-a-half year old and for that, you drive me insane.
I tried to do everything ‘right’ in regards to TV. “They” say no screens before age 2. Well, Hailey made it to 20 months before seeing anything on a screen. I mean, before that I wouldn’t let her look at a screen no matter what was on. First time parent craziness? You betcha! And when I gave in at 20 months, it was for a 12-15 minute segment of an educational show- Super Why? Yo Gabba Gabba? I can’t quite remember.
Fast forward to today. We still really limit TV (all screens really- she will occasionally use my kindle on a long road trip). In fact I often don’t turn the TV on until around 8:30 pm, after the girls are in bed. We aren’t the type that have background TV on. We usually opt for music, plus we cut cable years ago and now use Netflix and Hulu Plus. Anyway, Hailey typically watches one show a day, a 24 minute episode of Jake and the Never Land Pirates, or Daniel Tiger, or Octonauts (those seem to be the favorites around here currently).
So what’s the problem you ask?
Her incessant asking to watch it. It’s so predictable that it’s laughable, if it wasn’t slowly pushing me over the edge.
Whenever I pick her up from school/gym childcare/friend’s house/wherever, this is the exact greeting EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.
Hailey: Hi Mom, how ya doin? Can I watch something on TV now? I said hi mom, how ya doin?
This usually gets a good giggle from the teacher/my friends, but it all stems from a few months back when she used to just greet me with “Hi Mom, can I watch something on TV?” and I told her that was rude and I’d appreciate a little conversation first, you know, telling me about her day or asking me how my days was like, etc. Well, ask and you shall receive I guess.
So here I sit, trying to figure out how to unhinge this obsession.
Like a lot of parents, I blame myself. I’m SO conscious about not creating this dynamic with food. I don’t keep things off limit food wise and that has worked really well for us. Have I unconsciously created this TV fixation by making it so taboo? I had a friend suggest trying to ‘smoke her out’ so one day I let her go wild and watch as much TV as she wanted. The girl was on cloud nine. She metaphorically smoked that pack of cigarettes and asked for more.
I’ve taken it away for multiple days in a row. This does seem to work slightly, as she appears to not notice it as much after a couple days, but if I’m being real with you, I sometimes need those 24 minutes of preschooler occupation. She already does well with self play and can stay in her room solo for up to 2-3 hours entertaining herself with books and dolls (that’s what we call ‘nap time’ around here most days) so it’s not like I feel there is a developmental reason I need to limit it.
Basically, it’s just the fact that she asks for it all the time that is driving me crazy. The preoccupation and asking for it multiple times a day. I just don’t know what to do.
So, I’m here, at my wits end, asking for Haaaaaaalp.
How do you handle TV in your house?
How much to you let your kids watch?
Do they ask to watch it?
Are there predictable times they watch it?
I’m thinking it might help with Hailey if she watches a show at the exact same time everyday. Then she’d know when to expect it and when not to?
Any thoughts on my situation?