For some parents, TV is a constant friend and makeshift babysitter that keeps your children engaged just long enough so you can have a complete thought. Unfortunately, all of that distraction can have serious repercussions on your child's development. According to WebMD, obesity, problems paying attention in school and trouble sleeping are all linked to excess exposure to TV. Instead of putting a hammer through the 52-inch flat screen, wean your children off TV to help ease the transition back into the real world.
1 Move the TV out of your child's bedroom. According to the University of Michigan Health System, one-third of children between the ages of 2 and 7 have a TV in their room. The presence of a TV in a bedroom is also linked to sleep disorders and poor school performance. Your child will inevitably whine, but remind him that these are the rules now and you're doing it for his own good.
2 Cut back your child's TV privileges to one hour a day. This might be difficult for you as well, especially if you're a family that keeps the TV on for the all-important “background noise,” but the most effective way to wean your child off TV is to eliminate it from the family's daily life as well.
3 Plan a weekly TV schedule. For instance, if your toddler loves the "Fresh Beat Band," schedule his hour with the TV around the program. Enjoy an hour-long, kid-appropriate nature documentary with your preschooler. Educational TV is great, but sometimes it's OK to let your child unwind with an episode of "SpongeBob SquarePants."
4 Offer alternative sources of entertainment. Instead of vegging out on the couch after dinner, take everyone outside and play a family game of touch football. Encourage your preschooler's burgeoning passion for reading by supplying him with a mountain of books. Take an art class together as a family. Whatever you choose, just ensure that you practice what you preach. Don't tell your child to “go play” while you catch up on reruns of Dr. Phil.
5 Serve your meal at the dinner table instead of around the TV. Dust off your good plates and spend each night reconnecting instead of staring blankly at the TV. This might be a difficult transition for you, but it's well worth missing the nightly news to hear about your child's day.
- The University of Michigan Health System cautions parents against using TV as a reward or punishment. Instead, keep your child on a one-hour-a-day schedule and use new books or a trip to the zoo as a reward instead.
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