Toddlers, Television and the Screens – Oh My!

The child is twenty months old and there is a provision to allow the her to watch an actual kids program. Mixed in with that which is occasionally put on short, theme-appropriate videos at daycare. We as parents don’t want to be TV tyrants, but we dread to constantly negotiate with a toddler over more TV and fear falling into overusing it as the easy option. So, the intention is to find the actual right time to introduce programming as an activity for the kids. You just need to follow two-part rule of thumb when it comes to toddlers and the screen time. First one is if you can successfully navigate your day without screens, it’s awesome, and probably best option for a multitude of reasons. Second, it’s a day by day by day battle, so its no point in beating oneself on the days when you are like, OMG, here, watch some Elmo or have a peek at some animated ducks. You may not want to fail the child or distract the kid while you trip her toenails. Children usually love screens, it’s just another thing they enjoy doing, and when screens turn off, kids are all the more wanting to return to their puzzles, paints or picnics in backyard.

One needs to be realistic and flexible, and you may also be right to worry that it will be overly tempting to default to TV as easy option. In reality parenting is all about compromised and balancing out the best or ideal option with the realistic or good enough option. At times easy option can really be the only option, particularly if there are more than one child in the mix and are just desperately trying to prioritize everyone’s needs in the best possible manner. Kids get sick, childcare falls through, tantrums happen. At times there is an attempt to ensure a newly-mobile baby will stay put for fifteen minutes and not try to scale the bookshelves while parents are in the washroom. Screens are not going anywhere and may even be a big part of our children’s lives at some point, and not just for stand-in babysitting or entertainment. It’s another facet of life we all need to find balance we are individually comfortable with.

The default need not be putting on the television. Let the child play and explore the talk with you. TV should not be used as a nonstop background noise, even if it’s tuned to kid’s channel. Boundaries need to be set, for instance no screens at the dinner table or no screens, tablets or electronics in the kid’s bedroom. Store TV remotes and screens at a place where the child can’t find them. This way you are in full control and the child will learn that no TV really means no TV at all. The guidelines for kids and TV have shifted back and forth over the years with American Academy of Pediatrics having some good common sense advise about it. Post eighteen months it is wise to opt for high-quality, educational programming and watch it with your child whenever possible. Hence, screen time is not by default passive alone time, and so you can incorporate what they are watching into real-life lessons and observations. If there is a need to show some cute educational cartoons that address becoming a big sister, it is better to go for it. If she is crying in a waiting room or at the prospect of a vaccination, there is nothing wrong with pulling up a Blue’s Clues clip on you tube to catch attention. If you are having 45 minutes sleep as the baby kept you up all night and feel a cold coming on, don’t feel like a terrible mother for letting baby watch episodes of Super Why instead of just one. All have gone through that stage and at no time were the children broken as a result.

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