Q&A: Little TV Addicts

Each week Michele Borba answers your parenting questions right here on her blog. If you have a parenting problem or question leave a comment on this post and you may have yours answered next week!

I have a two-year-old son. All he wants to do is watch “Blue's Clues.” If I turn the TV off, he gets very mad and throws a fit--cries, rolls around on the floor, etc. I have tried distracting him with toys or going outside. The toys work for a few minutes, but then he loses interest. I am at my wits end because I know TV is not good for children’s eyes, brains, etc. Any suggestions would be helpful. --Kelly

So glad you wrote, Kelly. You have yourself a little TV addict, so now let's break that habit. Based on your son’s behaviors, this isn't going to be easy, so buckle up and stick to your guns. Here are my thoughts:

1. You are 100-percent right to break this habit, especially once I tell you about new research from the University of Washington that will have you breaking the TV monitor. Those quick fire images (that your son adores) are not just damaging his eyes, but also his brain development, the study finds. For every hour your child watches TV at his tender age, he is 10 times more likely to develop attention deficit problems by age seven. I started with the doom and gloom so you will stick to your plan.

2. Withdraw. You're not telling me how much TV your son watches, but the American Academy of Pediatrics says the max for kids his age should be one hour per day. Whatever he watches now, cut that time in half.

3. Find an alternative. He's addicted now, so think about what you will use to replace TV time. Find something to occupy that time, and ideally something away from the TV. Arrange a new schedule around that time slot like a walk outside, a play date or a trip to the sandbox. Occupy his time by doing something he enjoys.

4. Get earplugs. There is one part of this, Kelly, that is just going to take tenacity on your part to not give in. You firmly announce, "No more TV," and that's' it. Do not give in. This may take a few days (and warning the neighbors) but the behavior should gradually decrease.

Hang in there! These are the core years for your child to be developing language, social skills, creativity and endless other things, and excessive TV viewing will only deprive your child's development.

Worse comes to worse, take the TV and hide it. Seriously!

Click here to read more of Michele Borba's Q&As, or leave a comment below with your own questions and it may be answered next week.

12Secrets_Borba.jpgDr. Michele Borba is the author of over 22 books including 12 Simple Secrets Real Moms Know .

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