This morning after Annika threw a 10-minute fit over the television being turned off, I made a decision that seemed, in the moment, like a punishment.
No TV for the rest of the day.
After a few minutes we were both calmed down, she asked to finish watching her show. I then explained that we needed a break from the television, so thought it would be best if we didn’t watch anymore for the rest of the day. We can watch the rest of the show tomorrow morning, I told her.
So, far, (disclaimer, never say never) I’m against using punishments and rewards. Mostly, I’m looking for other ways to motivate and teach, rather than use the traditional method of, “You better do what I say, or else.”
After about 20 minutes I came to the realization that no TV for her meant, very little or no computer screen time for me for the rest of the day. Crap. Why do kid consequences always have to affect the parents too? Seems kind of unfair.
No TV Day also seemed a bit daunting to me. The TV often goes on when I need a break from playing monster, coloring and Play dough.
I thought about taking her to the park. But then I realized this could be a nice little challenge for myself, to go the entire day, interacting with her without any other methods of distraction like friends or cartoons. Don’t get me wrong, we have plenty of days that don’t involve TV watching, but it’s usually because we’re out doing other things. Rarely do we spend an entire day at home and not involve screen time.
Lately I’ve been feeling like Annika could really benefit from some lessons in how to entertain herself without a cartoon. I’ve been wrestling with my views on television because I never wanted to turn into one of those parents who hates TV for the sake of hating TV.
My upbringing has definitely factored into my views on television.
We went three years without a TV when I was in elementary school. And even during the years we did have it, we didn’t have cable, nor were we allowed to watch it much. The most television viewing we had was whatever my dad liked to watch. My mom didn’t watch it at all, except for rare snippets when she’d stop as she was passing through and watch for five minutes then start asking questions about what was happening. She’d then vanish from the room when met with irritated complaints that she was interrupting our show and “if she wanted to know what was going on, she should just sit down and watch the show.” She never did.
If dad wasn’t around, it was just as likely as not, that my mom would walk in, snap it off and tell us that television was pure garbage, it was rotting our brains and to go find something else to do. That always pissed me off to no end.
I swore I wouldn’t be like that with anything. It’s disrespectful. And anyway, I like TV. I like technology. I do think there’s lots of garbage on. But there are also lots of thought-provoking, smart, and entertaining programs on. It’s not pure evil. I don’t agree with the notion that television induces violence in people. I also don’t think it’s an addiction. But I do think that too much is not good for you.
Television is passive entertainment. Even for a 3-year-old who stands up while watching it, dancing and singing along with the characters, and even sometimes shouting at the television. But it doesn’t work your brain the way, for instance, drawing does.
So we spent the day without the TV on. It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. We drew for a while and discussed her letters. Then she took a nap, a rarity these days. But she seems to be going through some sort of developmental phase right now and this week, has seemed to need more sleep than usual. So, that helped break up the day a bit.
|She drew a kitty cat.|
Then we took a long walk. Had a dance party. Went swimming. Took a long bath together. Made cookies. She mentioned a couple of times that she wanted to watch something. Each time I reiterated that we were taking a break from the TV, and she could watch tomorrow.
At the end of the day she told me that Cookie Monster wanted to watch TV, but she told him that we were taking a break and he could watch it tomorrow.
Tough lesson for Cookie Monster, but he seemed to take it well.