TV and "onlies" Is it different?

Kathy - posted on 09/08/2010 ( 25 moms have responded )

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Like many mom's I want my daughter to watch less tv. However, I'm also struggling with the concept. Although my 4 year old has a wonderful imagination and loves to play by herself, it's not enough for her. She wants a playmate - me, and I'm not up to that task whenever she wants me to be. I'm not an only, but I was the youngest and had much older brother's so I was alone much of the time growing up. I spent time watching tv, but not spending my free moments playing with my mother. I'm also 47 so I've had a lot of years being used to having my own time and I find it hard to give up. Of course we have friends and pre-school, but there's a lot of other time left...TV time! What do you do about tv? Do you feel your only-child watches more than his or her peers? Does it bother you? If they don't, do you feel they're playing more with other kids, on their own, etc. Just looking for a conversation to see where other's are at.

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Karen - posted on 09/16/2010

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I have an only daughter, 12 years old. I spent a lot of time with her when she was 4, we read, did puzzles, played with her kitchen etc. They grow up so fast, take the time to BE with her because soon she will be at school and with friends. Also, involve her in what you are doing. Let her help in the kitchen, at 4 they can help measure or get ingredients, put an apron on her and let her stir things. Also with housework, she can push a swiffer or mop, dust, sort and fold laundry. This way you are together, getting stuff done and she is learning how to do so many things. Of course the folded shirts may not be perfect and there will be spills in the kitchen but you will be together and bonding.My daughter and I make pancakes from scratch many Saturday mornings, YUM! AND, read with her, so important.

Ari - posted on 09/15/2010

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OH.. and to solve a bit of the TV problem, I introduced 'Movie Night' which is every Friday night at our house - just our daughter, myself and my husband, we pop popcorn and she gets to choose the movie - this has also worked brilliantly and has helped a few of my friends who have recently introduced it after hearing about it. It could be an idea if you're looking to try something different and helps to curb the tv during the week!

Debbie - posted on 09/14/2010

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I am not a big fan of TV. Our children are young for such a short time. I miss those special times when my daughter was so little. She is now 14 years old, but when she was little, I would engage her in MY activities when I needed to do something instead of having the TV be a babysitter (I did use this on occasion, however, not often). If I needed to do laundry, she was next to me learning to fold clothes. When it was time to cook dinner, she was right there learning how to do that. And when I was cleaning the house, she would be dusting along side of me. Granted everything took more time, but I was a stay-at-home mom with an only child. I had all the time in the world! She loved doing all of it because I tried to make it fun. She even did windows! You couldn't see through them when she was done, but she had a blast! Seeing her have so much fun was much better than having her watch the TV so I could finish everything I needed to do.

Tracy - posted on 09/09/2010

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it's so nice to read posts from moms like me - in my 40s and with an only child who wants to play with me and i just don't want to!

i also never would have thought to have played with any grown up - nor did any of my friends - when i was a kid.

my daughter is 8 1/2 now and she wants to play with me less than a couple of years ago...so that's good! our time together is less about playing and more talking and i really enjoy that. it was rough from about 2 1/2 to 6 when she wanted to play all of those games with me.

i remember reading when my daughter was still a toddler from "experts" - you know, pediatricians, child psychologists, etc. that we should never use the tv as a babysitter. i thought "these must be people who don't stay at home with their kids all day!" it's really hard sometimes NOT to us the tv as a babysitter or boredom reliever or whatever.

anyway, i think we should definitely put a limit on tv time, but i'm not about being too strict about it. my daughter goes through stages. sometimes she wants to watch a lot of tv, and sometimes she hardly ever wants to watch it. the same is true with her DSi and computer.

you know, some people are really against tv in general, but i grew up eating tv dinners on tv trays! not what i recommend, but i do like tv. at my age now, i only watch tv after dinner and before bed. i hardly ever watch it during the day. i also watch a lot of educational tv. what i'm trying to say is IMO, tv isn't a terrible thing...

everything in moderation, right? :)

Lorie - posted on 09/09/2010

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Kathy, I how you feel. I'm 46 and my 6 yr old daughter expects me to play with her. I was also the youngest in my family and never even considered asking my mom to be my playmate. I was content with my toys... or the tv. When I was very young, up until about 1st or 2nd grade, I had a friend who lived up the street and I was able to spend a lot of time with her, but when her family moved away I was on my own. Somehow the whole concept of playing with my mom never came to mind, even before she started working.



Back when my daughter was 4 I had her in preschool as much as possible. I needed time to take care of the farm without wondering what my child was doing or leaving her glued to the tv. Even with that she wanted me to play with her a lot, and I frankly don't enjoy role playing games anymore. Nor do I have the energy to have my child telling me what to do all the time -- she does it anyway, so it definitely wasn't fun as a game. I eventually had to set tv limits -- 1 movie per day (of her choice) on the weekends, none during the week. I got to choose what she watched the rest of the time, which sometimes meant extra movies -- but they'd be my choice and something I didn't mind listening to again. The line had to be drawn when I grew weary of The Wiggles and the Doodlebops.



When she didn't like the programming on tv she would start playing with the Playdoh and Legos. She would play and talk with her friends (even though the appeared to be invisible). She even had fights with her friends. I haven't figured that one out -- when I pretended my friends were with me they always did exactly what I wanted. Right now we have some issues over the fact that I won't turn on the tv after school or before church on Sunday. Now that she can read a little bit she'll throw fits if I don't let her watch something that she sees in the guide -- or something that she wants that isn't even on. She gets practically hysterical if I choose something that I want to watch rather than something aimed at kids. The tv is definitely an issue. I don't want her growing up addicted to it like I was, but it would be so much easier just to let her have her way.

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Jade - posted on 10/19/2010

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im the same i find that my son always wants me to play and what i tend to do is get him involved round the house dusting brushing up etc he loves getting involved , i was an only child it doesnt do any harm some tv but i would recommend getting them involved in things and making it fun stickers for a good job etc colouring in making a tent that you will come and see getting them to sort out there toys into piles etc theres loads you can involve them with , my son even helps put his ironing away and fold my towels etc he doesnt do a gr8 job lol but hes so chuffed with hiself for getting involved lol x

Brandy - posted on 10/15/2010

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im an only child and i had restricted tv, and i can tell you from my childhood experience i was extremely bored. and i wanted my mom to play with me but she was to busy all the time so i spent alot of time talking to toys. i personally dont think that tv is harmful as long as you moniter what your child is watching. im 30 and i have some medical problems that really effect my energy etc. i spent the majority of my life taking care of children and i always played with them and gave them my full attention, but now that i have my own not only am i exhausted but im a little bored as well. i give jenna plenty of attention and she has a very active imagination (which i think kids are born with mostly) shes very social when we do get out and about because shes just an outgoing kid. and yes she watches alot of tv. mostly pbs and i see nothing wrong with it. she loves it she sings and claps and dances with the characters shes learning alot from me and the tv, today dinosaurs were talking about smelling things and she was sniffing right along with them. and she tries to help with housework and follows me around and sometimes she will have days that she wants more of my attention but i think as her parent it is up to me to decide when im going to play with her and when im not, i have to set some boundaries. so i guess my point is whats the big deal if they want to watch some cartoons?

Deeanna - posted on 09/29/2010

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My son is 2 and only likes to watch one TV show--Yo Gabba Gabba!... I cannot escape it. He watches it in the morning while he eats breakfast, and one more time in the evening before bed. That's all he wants to watch. Sometimes i try to get him to watch TV so that I can clean and get chores done, but no. He won't do it. He wants me to play with him. He is very set on his one on one time and if I ever brought another child into the picture, he would be beside himself with grief. He could probably use a playmate, but I don't know anybody with a child his age that he could play with and I don't think he'd last a second in daycare. Don't get me wrong, he's very well behaved, but very much a mommy's boy. He'll tell you about it too... "I'm Mama's baby." It's sometimes disturbing. If he wants to play and I'm busy or not looking at him, he'll grab my face and turn it to him and tell me "Mommy, watch this." Other times, like now, he's too busy to realize I exist. He plays by himself for a long time. He's sitting in the laundry basket right now, coloring... lol. He is something else.

Dawn - posted on 09/26/2010

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Well, my 19 month old son doesn't really play "with" me right now but do understand how difficult it is to feel like you always have to entertain an only child. I had a younger sister that always played with, but my father said I was torture until she came along, LOL!! I find that I have a good balance going so far. The TV is on in my house an average of 4 hours a day, my son watches maybe 1 1/2 hrs duuring that time. Sometimes it is on less, if we have big plans one day. Other days it is on more, like when it is raining or I am doing a lot of cleaning. I leave the programs on so that my son can come and go as he pleases. More often he likes to "help" with what I am doing. I have been big on having him learn to play by himself, but don't push him, and he seems to do well most days. I do make sure to designate a few slots of uninterrupted time throughout the day (15-30 minutes) where we read or play puzzles or do art. I make it a point to do a social activity most days, whether it is the inside or outside playground, or the library or simply a short trip to the grocery store or laundrymat. And we always go outside to play for at least 15-30 minutes twice a day (morning and evening). I am actually looking foward to my son getting older and playing more. I want to play tag and throw the ball and play pretend, but ah, he isn't old enough yet!!! I also understand the age thing, and I am only 32!! I never felt ready for children in my 20's but boy oh boy, I would have be physically been able to handle it better. By the time 8 o'clock comes I am whipped!! :) :)

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Sometimes when you play with them for just a little bit, it's enough. My daughter would want me to play, and I'd have a million things to do around the house, dinner to make, etc. But I'd play with her a little bit, let her show me what she wanted to show me, then tell her, "Okay, Mommy needs to go cook dinner, now." Usually it was good enough.
Play dates could be another option.

Lyndsay - posted on 09/20/2010

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My TV is on pretty much all day for my son, but it's just background noise. Very rarely does he actually sit still in one spot and watch it, usually he's running around playing with his toys or terrorizing our dog. I try to make quality time for him but, honestly, I'm not that into playing dinky cars or Spiderman. So generally, if theres something he wants to do that is enjoyable for both of us (like reading or arts & crafts), I will do it... but if he wants to play with his little boy toys, it's all on him. My dog is a great companion for him when he needs that extra person for his rough-and-tumble play... if you can, consider getting a pet.

Erin - posted on 09/17/2010

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I personally think that part of being a stay-at-home mom is playing with your child. Even if you don't play directly with them, have some activities set up for them. Maybe find some playgroups that you can bring her to or some other activities that include playtime with other kids. I'm a stay at home mom (even though I'm much younger), I play with my son a lot during the day. I spend time with him during snacks, bottles, and play time. I try not to let either of us rot in front of the t.v. all day. Plus, we spend time running errands for at least part of most days.

Sarah - posted on 09/17/2010

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Honestly we don't even own a tv and our daughter now 10 has done just fine with out it she had to learn that I was not going to entertain her constantly and how to keep herself entertained. She used to and still plays for hours by her self and now that she is older reads a lot so in my opinion there is no need for any tv time

Julie - posted on 09/16/2010

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just make sure ther are a lot of educational programs for her to watch...she will still be taking some of it in, learning at the same time.......

Ari - posted on 09/15/2010

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My daughter turned 5 this year and I noticed over the summer hols that the TV was getting a lot more use than normal - this is a child who plays by herself beautifully [wonderful imagination, cracks me up!] and extremely well with others [though when she has had enough she goes off on her own] so the only concern with the TV was that I didn't want it to become an 'addiction' or rather, a 'disturbance' - especially once school had started back. So one day I decided that she could watch TV, but after 1 hour, it would be turned off and she would have to find something else to do - no debating. And to my surprise, and not nearly as much trouble as I thought I was going to have, it worked! But from what i've heard from friends who have more than 1, she doesn't watch any more tv than they do.
She too wants my attention at all hours but I let her know in the early what I have planned [laundry, cleaning, DOWN TIME [and we need it!], but that I promise I will play with her between there, and I do. It doesn't have to be a major play deal, set up some paints, get some plain frames and let her decorate her own.. whatever she wants, no correcting... or go out in the garden and find larger leaves, etc and paint those - she actually came up with that idea herself and they are gorgeous! Another game she has recently discovered is X and O's and all you need is a piece of paper and a pencil! There are lots of things you can find to do that don't involve you getting up and moving around too much if you don't want to but your kids need to interact with you, especially if you are the adult at home all day - that's how they learn!!!

Raisa - posted on 09/12/2010

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well i prevent her from watching movies babies catch up real quick and is there has been a certain actions that has ahappen in the movie one day u will see them doing it i let her watch cd cartoon for babies with educational learning ex:telly tubbies ABC movies etc....

Amber - posted on 09/12/2010

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My 4 year old watches about 3-5 hours of tv a week. Mostly educational like little Einstein's and diego are his favorite. In addition if he does good in school all week he can play the wii for about a hour a day on the weekend. for a total of 5-7 hours a week.
The rest of the time is spent playing with his friends, (They come over every mon- wens) or reading, practicing writing, computer games, (If you go to target you can get jump start for about $10. my son learned how to read with jump start and elmo computer games)
My son is more hands on, He will get sick of the tv after a 30 min show and want to do something else. Its crazy because tv is the only thing that cant keep his attention. I would say you should if MY kid is going to watch anything it better be educational. we occasionally have movie night were both of us snuggle on the sofa and watch a movie but almost every time we end up on the floor playing cards, monopoly, or some other game.

Amy - posted on 09/10/2010

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Mine just watches it in the AM for about an hour and then a movie when I make dinner. I used to struggle with it too, but now it is fine. You can't hide them from everything. Don't stress about it!!

Leslie - posted on 09/09/2010

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I think it has to be a little different. My son is 9, and it's been the same way. He watches more TV than we'd like, but we've just tried to always make sure he's not watching anything inappropriate. He can only spend so much time playing Legos, etc, by himself. As he's gotten older, it is switching from TV to computer/video games. (By the way, Leapster and Didj are great! My son played those quite a bit, and they are educational.) It's definitely a challenge to keep an only child entertained in a constructive way, especially here in Phoenix, where it's too hot to play outside all summer!

Kathy - posted on 09/09/2010

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Tara, I'm glad your using Your Baby Can Read! I used that for my daughter, but b/c I stopped being consistent after a while, she lost interest. She loved it at first and really was learning (she was maybe 20 months at the time I started using it). I had the pleasure of spending time with Dr. Titzer, who is so passionate about this subject he would've talked all night had we let him. He is a very engaging person and speaker - and Aleka and Kieran - are young women who are amazing now. (Usborne Books used to distribute these and he spoke at the Convention 3 years ago, before YBCR went informercial).
So, my (unsolicited) advice is KEEP AT IT. Don't slack with it. It works!

Tara - posted on 09/08/2010

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my husband and i use netflix for any cartoons our daughter watches. we can upload as many as we think are suitable for her (kyle is 10 months old, b.t.w). you can google commonsense media for a website that rates shows by age appropriateness. while she also watches "your baby can read" at least once a day, our goal is to not have her watching just your run-of-the-mill T.V. "programming", (it is called this for a reason). Not only does this put the discretion and discernment back into the parents domain, but it also insures us that she will not have to be a captive audience to what ever else (violence, drugs, sexual situations, mushroom clouds, etc) the "mainstream" media deems appropriate at any given time of day, and it never ceases to astound me what they deem appropriate for humans, let alone baby humans.

sorry for the ramble, but at the very least make sure your t.v./dvd player is teaching the values you would like your child to cultivate in life ♥ best to you, momma.

Brittany - posted on 09/08/2010

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My 3 year old likes to play games on the computer - we go to pbs.org and nickjr.com. She does amazing - I had no idea that a 3 year old could operate a computer so easily. Jumpstart programs work well too.

I personally try to avoid tv as much as possible. My daughter watches one movie a day and that is before bed. Every once in a while she catches a Scooby Doo cartoon or Phinease and Ferb but she rarely sits still long enough to watch the whole episode. Her best friend watches a lot of tv and she is 4. And both behave similarly when it comes to social interaction - so Im not sure how much tv is as relevant as what kind of tv they are watching.

Brittany - posted on 09/08/2010

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My 3 year old likes to play games on the computer - we go to pbs.org and nickjr.com. She does amazing - I had no idea that a 3 year old could operate a computer so easily. Jumpstart programs work well too.

I personally try to avoid tv as much as possible. My daughter watches one movie a day and that is before bed. Every once in a while she catches a Scooby Doo cartoon or Phinease and Ferb but she rarely sits still long enough to watch the whole episode. Her best friend watches a lot of tv and she is 4. And both behave similarly when it comes to social interaction - so Im not sure how much tv is as relevant as what kind of tv they are watching.

Yvette - posted on 09/08/2010

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I feel the same way. My son just wants time with me at the end of it all and while he will watch TV for hours I feel so guilty. I get him to help me do things around the house but I hate that he looks at me so desperately wanting time from me...what is a mommy to do? I am 42 so I had alot of ME time too! While I don't miss my me time I just don't know how to give him the play time he needs with me. I mean I get tired of watching TV too...

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Great question! My daughter is only 17 months old, but I've already had to set limits on TV because it seemed like she was getting too dependent on it. She wanted to watch movie, after movie, all day long. Now I limit her to two movies a day, if she's behaving. If not, no movies. She is also allowed to watch Sesame Street and Sid the Science Kid on PBS. One of my big problems, though, is that I'm a stay at home mom without a car! There is no public transportation in my area and you can't walk anywhere without risking your life. So, we're literally stuck in our tiny house (or backyard) every single day. All that's really left to do is watch TV. It's pretty frustrating.

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