my son plays but would rather watch tv, while he watches he plays alittle.. what should i do?

Angie - posted on 01/23/2013 ( 19 moms have responded )

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i am a stay at home with a million things to be done daily so the tv helps but i feel horrible about it. shamefully i get bored too. we play together,run books, puzzles, blocks ect but after a hour or two he hands me the remote.. help the quilt is mind blowing..

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[deleted account]

How old is he? It is okay for kids over 2 years to watch a little TV each day. Just make sure you choose commercial free programs, like "educational" or child centered DVD's or PBS/ETV programs. Keep in mind that something labeled "educational" or "learning" will not actually teach, but you don't have to worry about the content being inappropriate in those shows, and sometimes they can actually help reinforce ideas that you are already teaching at home or introduce new ideas to explore.

With J, I found it helpful to allow 30 minutes in the morning & 30 minutes mid afternoon. 30 minutes is enough time to watch a show from start to finish, but not so long that he becomes absorbed in it and forgets other activities.

If you are struggling to finish daily tasks, try setting up a few independent play areas in his room (like a lego station, a blocks station, etc.) and set a timer for 5 minutes. Tell him if he plays on his own for 5 minutes, you will play with him for 5 minutes, and just keep taking turns. (you'd be surprised how much you can get done in 5 minutes without any interruptions!!) Another good option is to get his musical instruments (or pots and spoons) out and let him play songs for you while you clean.

You don't have to play WITH him all the time, he needs to learn to play on his own, but it will take some effort if he is dependent on the TV when you are not with him. That's okay, use the timer. You will be able to extend the time he plays on his own gradually until you can get close to half an hour at each time.

[deleted account]

At 21 months, EVERYTHING is short lived! I think you are trying too hard (I mean that in the nicest possible way). He doesn't need to be doing something 24/7 and don't be afraid to let him do something twice. Just because he only colored for 5 minutes this morning before losing interest doesn't mean he is finished for the day--he just needed a break from it. As adults, we have been conditioned to work on something until we are finished. Kids are built to learn--they focus on something for a short time so that they have time to explore everything and learn lots of new things, then they come back to it later if they liked it. Their attention spans are VERY SHORT, but they are short for a reason, so we don't want to try too hard when they are too young to make them focus longer.

Try setting up a small table or easel with some crayons and paper and leaving it set up in a prominent area. He probably won't color for more than 5 minutes at a time (and actually I'd be surprised if a 21 month old lasted 5 minutes!), but he'll draw a little, get distracted and play with his blocks or stuffed animals then wonder back to it and draw some more.

Once he's finished running that course you built, don't tear it down--he'll want to do it again in an hour (that said, you don't really need to build courses for him if you don't want to, just chase him around your furniture)

Try alternating activities: Turn on some music and dance to a song, then build blocks for the duration of a second song, draw during the 3rd song, then dance again for the 4th song. (Btw, very cool to see how the music influences what they draw at this age! Try it--play a slow song and let him draw, then a little later play a fast song while he draws!)

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Sandra - posted on 02/18/2013

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I would definitely put a stop to this now or your child will become way to involved in television. Get him involved in the household chores too. It can be fun for him to help you. Also join multiple mom groups so you can arrange play dates twice a week. My child loves to go for walks and sometimes just look out the window for awhile at things passing by. You can also try some interactive computer games which is a little better than tv. But I wouldn't let him watch for more than one hour a day. Also get so child exercise videos which is still on the tv but a little different since it requires some activity from your child that you can do together or not.

Gladys - posted on 02/18/2013

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Hi Angie,

Sorry I forgot to answer your question. Yes some TV can't be bad. My son learns a lot through TV programmes too.

Just choose the ones that are suitable for them.

My son likes:

Sid the Science Kid
Pocoyo
Hi 5
Barney (sadly only the singing part)
Sesame Street
Pororo
Umizumi

They really learn via these programmes. Just limit the time.

Gladys - posted on 02/17/2013

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You are most welcome, Angie.
I find it hard too at first to break his habit. He would watch TV the whole day. So what I did was, at first, I would take him out quiet often. That would be after breakfast. We would visit some friends or go shopping. If we go to the mall, he gets to play at the indoor playground for a while. Then we would go to the food department to buy some groceries. There he would learn the names of the fruits and vegetables. When he got older, I allow him to push the shopping cart (they provide those kinds that are small enough for toddlers to push around) and I would let him put the things that I want to buy into the cart.

Anyway, so we would go out for 2-3 days a week (on weekdays when his dad is working) and that would help to put him away from the TV. Later, I replaced going out with some more constructive lessons which lasts for about 20-40minutes per session.

I hope I can help you too bec I was struggling too and needed help. I discovered Circle of Moms and found lots of help here. Hope you find your help here too!

All the best and God Bless!

Angie - posted on 02/17/2013

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thank you four your advice Gladys. I love those ideas and will be trying them starting tomorrow. I am a new mom and worry about everything when it comes to my son and i stay at home pondering what to do and what not to do. he currently loves dora and is pointing out answers to her questions so some tv cant be bad right? i can over think tv all day. i do alot of activities with him but he likes tv and will sit and point at it til it comes on i could bring in the circus he doesnt care when he wants tv on. i fight threw those tantrums but somedays my fight has given up. thanks so much again for your imput.

Gladys - posted on 02/17/2013

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I used to let him watch too much TV too and he was stuck to the habit for quiet a while. My son will be 3 this June.

Ok, I understand that you have chores to finish and sometimes you get bored doing the same things with him and he gets bored too.

What I did:

1. Get him involved in the chores.
I get him to help me with the chores. Like, when I am hanging the clothes out to dry, I get him to hand me the clothes one by one.
He also helps me to do the laundry from loading the laundry to pressing the buttons and unloading the laundry when they are ready. With me monitoring, of course.

When I do the vacuuming, I would get him to help me move the things that are blocking my way.

When I am cooking, I let him play cooking at a low shelf nearby. I give him a pan and a spatula and bits and pieces of vegetables (eg, pumpkin skin) or get him to peel onion and garlic for me. He loves it and could even arrange the ingredients nicely in a bowl and hand it to me! Sometimes, I get him to wash the vegetables for me, but of course, i would wash it again before cooking, but it is a learning process for him.

It is good to get him involve in the things you do so that you can do what you have to do and he learns how to do household chores too!

Here are some other suggestions as to how to "invent" new games using the materials that you have.

2. I started to plan different "lessons" for him. We would do a different activity with the same materials. I worked. He would be attracted to the new activity for quiet sometime. For example, when he was younger, I used to show him flash cards. Five cards per day for several times a day. I would repeat the cards for a week then change to a different set. Then he got bored. So I came up with something new. He has a toy car that he loves to push around. I made him put a container on the car and made him push in a circle. I would sit at a spot. When he passes me, I would made him stop and collect a card from me as I read the word out (eg, BUTTERFLY). THen he goes round again and collect another card. Cos it is a fresh activity, he could be about 50 cards or so.

3. Sing songs
I would sing and dance with him along some CDs. You will realise soon that he will be able to sing some of the songs.

Christine - posted on 01/29/2013

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As long as he is doing some playing, a little bit of TV won't hurt him as long as it's educational. Everything in moderation!

Beth - posted on 01/27/2013

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It's totally fine for kids to watch a little bit of TV. As long as you're not parking him in front of it all day long, and as long as the programs are age appropriate, you shouldn't feel guilty.

Erica - posted on 01/27/2013

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I agree with Sally's post. Definitely let him help. It might take twice as long to do things, but you can make it fun for the both of you. I too, am guilty of using the t.v. for a babysitter most days as well. I am also 14 weeks pregnant with our #2, so I'm just feeling lazy right now, lol! We really like shows like Curious George, Magic School Bus and Ni Hao Kilan (she teaches Mandarin Chinese). These kinds of shows we DVR or have on DVD. Most of the time our t.v. is just background noise during the day and he still plays on his own, occasionally watches the shows. I like having background noise all the time. Though music might be better than t.v. ;-). I grew up in a house with lots of noise from lots of kids, so I need lots of noise to get anything done now, lol. At least, that's my excuse.

Sally - posted on 01/25/2013

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Why can't he help you with the million things? He's plenty old enough to sort laundry, dump and mix ingredients, pick up toys, carry small things between rooms, etc. AND he's still young enough to think it's fun. The sooner you teach him that everyone does chores and they don't have to be drudgery, the less he'll fight them when he gets bigger. It'll also keep the two of you together, keep both of you away from the TV, and can be used to help him learn colors, shapes, counting, measurements, etc. while teaching him that learning can be fun instead of drudgery also.

Angie - posted on 01/24/2013

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thanks kelly. i know i am trying to hard just dont know what to expect i think. Want to do whats best but i am running out of ideas. i am trying those ideas you have given me. i think with everything we do as stay at home moms i am trying to do it all and keep my son active with all new things not thinking he will go back to the same thing. i love the music idea gonna try that right after lunch ;)

Angie - posted on 01/24/2013

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thanks ladies for your help.. my son is 21 months old, in the spring,summer and fall tv is not a problem we are always out and about but this winter has gotten to us both, i do let him color and finger paint but its short lived, he likes to run so i make courses for us to run around the house but thats short lived also. there is alot of hours in a day to keep him entertained. i am running out of things to do with him for the entire day. we read and he helps me cook. his attention in short so puzzles takes about a second and hes over it. i dont know what else to do.

[deleted account]

Don't worry about the vocabulary too much yet. He is on the later end of normal in that area, but at this point there is still plenty of time for him to develop. A lot of kids who speak later tend to speak all at once rather than gradually. My son was like this. He said his first word, then within a week he had over 30 words. I think he knew them, he was just working up the courage to use them. Kids who speak earlier tend to add words more gradually. It's a balance and by the time they are 3 or so, the kids who spoke early have no more words than those who spoke later. That said, do keep an eye on him for hearing problems if he's not speaking more by the time he's about 30 months. Also, when you read to him, point to words as you read them and pause between words. This doesn't work well with "story" books, but it works well with picture books that pretty much just have a picture on each page with a describing word or two.

As for the food....Not sure I'm the one to help with that--I messed mine up too. Honestly, I think some kids are just picky eaters. I was when I was a kid, and now J is too. What I do is only offer healthy choices, but offer things I know he'll eat--like bananas, apples, bread, peas, and corn. Yes, his diet is VERY limited, but along with his daily vitamin he gets the nutrients he needs. Every now and again I will offer something new, and sometimes he'll try it and like it (this week we discovered oranges), other times he won't even put it in his mouth, and I try my best not to be disappointed or make a big deal out of it. I know that when he knows I'm upset about him not eating, he becomes more determined not to eat.

Of course he loves cookies, and pretzels and other junk foods, but I cannot give them to him because he would get full and not eat the healthier items. To keep myself from giving in, I don't buy any junk food. I can't have it in the house at all.

Susan - posted on 01/23/2013

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So my 6 year old got in trouble with his dad. Well the dad took away T.V. for 3 weeks. The first few days were kind of hard but now it is the best thing. My son plays by him self again and isn't constently bugging me to watch T.V. Once he gave up on getting me to turn on the tv he found ways to entertian himself. And yes when the husband is away I just happen to watch a kid friendly show here and there. But it is the two of us curling up on the couch so I see it as Mom and son time.

Madeline - posted on 01/23/2013

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keep the t.v. off and encourage him to do other things. Take 1 hour out of your day and go to the park, library where there have story time, the museum, make play dates so he is interacting with other kids, invite one of his friends over, get out all the crafts you would be amazed at how much this distracts them from t.v.. I am an arts and crafts teacher and the kids I have love to explore the art world, I let them use any kind of material to create. Make homemade clay and then bake it and your child can paint it and hang in their room. How proud your child will be. Obviously I could go on forever, sorry.

Angie - posted on 01/23/2013

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Thank you so much again for the advice, this is my first child and i seem to be lost on everything but trying to do whats best for him though i sometimes dont know what i am doing.. thank you again. if i may ask two more questions.. i know i yet again spoiled him with eating i am trying the new things but i give in to the things i know he will eat, is 21 months to young to stay firm about eating whats given to him??? my son also doesnt say any words, mom and ball slips out from time to time but he does babble and yell when he points like he is talking his own language is that normal for his age all i keep reading is how at 21 months they should have 20 words plus? thank you again for your advice and opinions.

[deleted account]

If he likes the noise, try music instead. I know a lot of people who find themselves "unsettled" when their homes are too quiet, so they keep the TV on all day, but it really is a drain on your mental energy. I can give you some studies about how having the TV on during play inhibits play and development--music is better for background noise.

When I suggest friends try switching to music instead of the TV they always tell me that the first week was really hard, but by the second week they ALWAYS notice that they have more energy and feel happier and more content mood-wise. My own son becomes irritable and easily upset when we watch too much TV so I turn on some music for a few hours and he becomes his happy, easy going self again.

Don't feel bad about letting him watch a few minutes here and there throughout the day, but try to turn it off as soon as you notice that he is engaged in something else, and turn the music on. He will probably not even notice for a few minutes. The more often you do it, the less he will want the TV and the more he will want the music (which does not inhibit play the way TV does, but still provides that comforting background noise).

Angie - posted on 01/23/2013

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thank you for that advice. my son is 21 months old, his attention like most toddlers im sure is very short he cant sit still for two seconds.. he runs around while watching tv sometimes i think its for the noise but i hate that he always wants it on.

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