Use TV Time Wisely

When two of my four children were very young, I didn't have cable so they watched many children's videos.  To date, for my other two, I still allow them to watch videos despite having cable service and I also encourage public television shows.  I like the fact that all are commercial free, but cable, well that is another story!

I am appalled at the ugliness of so-called children's programming.  It isn't any wonder that many of these children who sit and watch cartoons and other shows all day and night don't become crazy.  The amount of TV and now video gaming that children spend is ridiculous!

When I saw that my own children were watching too much TV and playing video games, that's when I started cutting back the time for each.  I realize that oftentimes they were getting too much TV and gaming time because they were quiet.  What parent doesn't want a child to be off doing something and out of his or her hair for a time?

One of the things I did was create a chart and allowed the children to have a say on what time and days would be good for them to watch TV and play video games.  Of course, there was a limit and they couldn't do both back-to-back.  For the younger children, I just tell them when the TV comes on and when it goes off each day.  Since they are still small, we haven't really needed to set a video gaming time, because their attention span for that sort of stuff isn't very long.  I am surprised when they can stay at a computer screen longer than an hour.  The two younger ones are 3 and 4.  The two older ones are now 11 and 12.

When you feel like your children are spending far too much time watching TV and playing video games,  let them know and be open to their suggestions on how they can cut their time.  I realized that I had to incorporate other things during the days they were out of school to keep them busy.  I came up with the following:  reading time, practice worksheets, chores, exercise time (outdoor/indoor play), TV/video time, snack/meal times--of course, and then a favorite, I call, "Do Nothing Time."  They are to go to their rooms and relax.  This way I can have some peace and quiet to myself.  Sure, there is a lot of scheduling involved and yes, some have said, "That sounds like the military."  But it works!  Just think we all have routines in our days that require a certain amount of time to get tasks accomplished, so what's the difference?  The results over the years have been great!  My two older sons use my ideas when they go elsewhere.  My other two look forward to their scheduled times to get tasks completed.  Overall, everyone is happy.

So utilize the TV not as a babysitter, but as a privilege.  Make it work for you!  When children misbehave, cut it off.  When they continue to be disobedient, remove it out of their rooms.  Unlike what our society tries to portray when it comes to TV being a must-needed item, it is a mere luxury.  All of our children must understand that everything on that box isn't real, necessary or is the truth!

Nicholl McGuire
Read more about my experiences raising children here.

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